Following the news last week that longtime substitute teacher Sean C. Clark was arrested on charges of allegedly possessing and distributing child pornography, the Snoqualmie Valley School District released details regarding how substitutes are hired.
For over a decade Clark had been a substitute in multiple area school districts, including Enumclaw, Kent, Tahoma and most recently, Snoqualmie Valley. He also worked in an Issaquah area childcare.
According to the Snoqualmie Valley School District, the process and requirements for hiring substitutes and permanent teachers is the same for all districts in Washington State.
SVSD Public Information Officer Carolyn Malcolm stated via email that districts must comply with all state employment laws and teachers must have an appropriate teaching certification issued through the Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Malcolm added that teachers must complete a criminal background disclosure form indicating if they have been convicted of any crimes against children or vulnerable adults – and sign under penalty of perjury. They also must pass a criminal history background check run through the Washington State Patrol and the Federal Bureau of Investigations.
According to Washington State OSPI, per state law, fingerprint checks are also required for new employees of school districts.
Malcolm explained that Sean Clark had met all of these requirements when he began his SVSD employment in 2003 and there were no negative reports or feedback regarding his work to have warranted concern. She said, “Unfortunately, our school district and apparently others where he worked did not have a way of knowing what was taking place on his home computer.”
Malcolm commented via email:
“Be assured that the safety of students has been, and always will be, the District’s top priority. When something shocking like this occurs, it is a difficult time for all — for our families as well as for school staff who are dedicated to the care and well-being of all children. Sadly, this has been a stark reminder of the importance of having those sensitive conversations with our children, and to make sure all concerns are reported.”
Clark was formally charged on June 3rd. The Snoqualmie Valley School District took immediate action to prevent him for ever subbing in the district again – and stated it is working closely with law enforcement.