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Ritz: Felon with teaching license not acceptable

Posted at 1:55 PM, May 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-27 20:58:12-04

INDIANAPOLIS -- A Call 6 Investigation into convicted felons and sex offenders holding valid teaching licenses prompted the Indiana Department of Education and the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Glenda Ritz, to send letters to every county prosecutor in the state.

Call 6 Investigates found the Department of Education failed to revoke licenses for teachers convicted of child seduction, despite a law that says they have to do so.

The law is meant to protect children and prevent teachers from moving to another school district, and also, to punish educators who commit sexual misconduct.

Ritz spoke exclusively with Call 6 Investigates about not complying with the law.

Kenney:  “Is that acceptable?”
Ritz:  “Well, it’s never acceptable to not have a license taken care of as we should.”
Kenney: “Can you understand why parents would be concerned about this?”
Ritz:  “Oh, the safety of our kids is of utmost importance, so we need to make sure we’re following the process.”

As of last week, IDOE had still not revoked licenses for Timothy Guilfoy, Michael Douce, and Kellen Hubert-- all three are Indiana teachers convicted of child seduction.

Indiana law requires county prosecutors to immediately notify IDOE when a teacher is convicted of a felony so that IDOE can start the revocation process, but Call 6 Investigates found that’s not always happening.

Ritz sent letters Thursday and Friday to every prosecutor in the state notifying them of their duty to immediately report convictions.

“Unfortunately, some prosecutors in our state are unaware of this requirement and have not provided immediate notification to the Department,” the letter read. “Any lack of immediate notification has the potential to delay action taken against and individual’s license.”

Timothy Guilfoy, who was caught having sex with a student, pleaded guilty in Marion County in 2014 to two counts of felony child seduction.

Former Noblesville High School teacher Michael Douce pleaded guilty in Hamilton County in August 2015 to two counts of child seduction for inappropriate relationships with two female students.

Former Harrison County Indiana teacher Kellen Hubert was convicted in July 2015 of child seduction.

Both Hubert and Guilfoy are listed in the Indiana Sex Offender registry, and Douce is currently incarcerated in state prison.

Call 6 Investigates reached out to all three counties to find out whether they notified IDOE of the convictions, and Harrison and Hamilton county prosecutors told RTV6 they were unaware of the requirement.

“I know that our office did not send them anything documentation,” said Otto Schalk, Harrison County prosecutor. “On Mr. Hubert's case, he was recently released from prison and is now on the Sexual Offender Registry, which would prohibit him from having contact with children.”

“I was previously unaware of such a requirement,” said Andre Miksha, deputy prosecuting attorney for Hamilton County.  “Because the statute states immediately, I know our notice is considerably tardy; however, with Mr.
Douce currently serving a prison sentence with a projected release date in 2023, I hope the eight-month delay will be considered insignificant in the practical sense, especially since we know Noblesville Schools was following the case closely and was aware of its disposition.”

Both Hamilton and Harrison counties sent IDOE the paperwork last week, and the state website as of Friday shows Douce’s license as “revoked” and Hubert as “pending revocation.”

A spokesperson for the Marion County prosecutor’s office said they are still researching what happened regarding Guilfoy’s conviction paperwork.

As of Friday, Guilfoy’s license is now listed as “pending revocation.”

Ritz points out they pushed legislation last session that would have required courts to automatically enter the information upon conviction, rather than relying on prosecutors’ to remember, but the proposal failed.

“I just wished we would have streamlined it in the last session,” said Ritz.  “Streamlining that process would be a great help to the Department of Education, so we will be proposing that again.”

Earlier this week, the state legislature announced an interim summer study committee on education will discuss the misreporting of sexual misconduct.

Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) said he hopes it will address problems exposed by Call 6 Investigates, as well as other issues they couldn’t get to last session.

“We tried to fix what we could in a very short session,” said Merritt.  “We need transparency to make sure kids are safe in our schools. That's the bottom line.”

Merritt plans to introduce legislation that aimed at “passing the trash,” or bad teachers going from district to district.

“We need to shine a bright light on this for all government officials,” said Merritt. “Everyone from teachers to superintendents, to legislators and prosecutors, everyone needs to understand how to follow the process.  It goes back to feeling like our kids are safe in our schools.”

The summer study committee may discuss how convicted felons were able to keep teaching licenses, and how that process can be improved.

“Things have slipped through the cracks,” said Merritt.

In light of several recent teacher sex scandals, Call 6 Investigates started looking into what measures are in place to protect your children in the classroom from those accused of sexual misconduct.

Kisha Nuckols and Shana Taylor, both criminally charged with child seduction, still have valid licenses with the state of Indiana, records show.

In Indiana, you need a license if you have ongoing and regular contact with children in a public school district.

Nuckols served as a teacher’s aide and substitute teacher in the Mt. Vernon school district, and Taylor worked as a counselor in Indianapolis Public Schools.

MORE | Mt. Vernon Schools teacher's aide accused of child seduction | Principal charged with failure to immediately report child abuse allegations | Why did Mt. Vernon wait 17 days to report alleged abuse? | IPS counselor charged with child seduction | IPS officials waited 6 days to report alleged child sex abuse

Local school boards fired Nuckols and Taylor from their positions while the criminal charges are pending.

21 educator licenses were suspended or revoked in Indiana in 2014, and ten were suspended/revoked in 2015, according to the IDOE.

Park Tudor coach and chemistry teacher Kyle Cox recently agreed to plead guilty to coercion and enticement.
Call 6 Investigates checked to see if the state has taken action against his license.

However, Cox did not have a teaching license, according to a school spokesperson. Cox resigned from the school on Dec. 15.

The school allegedly allowed Cox to take a school computer off of school property and remove "personal" files from it. He returned the computer the next day.

That same day, the school signed a confidentiality agreement with Cox which, among other things, prohibited him from talking to any Park Tudor students and from discussing the reason for his resignation.

A new Indiana law goes into effect July 1 that limits confidentiality agreements, helping schools to share sexual misconduct information with other schools.