A North Las Vegas worker terrorized city employees for years even after being fired, but that didn’t stop the Clark County School District from considering him a good hire.
Six months after being hired by the school district in 2013, Michael P. Curley was arrested for the same behavior that caused North Las Vegas to fire him: threatening to kill city employees and their families.
In one instance, according to court filings, he threatened to shoot his boss’s children in the kneecaps.
Curley now works as a custodian at Valley High School.
Curley pleaded guilty to two counts of gross misdemeanor conspiracy to commit stalking in June. After being fired over threats of violence, city employees continued to receive death threats from Curley for four years, according to a North Las Vegas police report. Curley is not allowed to contact city employees or go to City Hall.
Curley’s menacing while employed by the city included saying he would place a bomb under a car, kick a co-worker’s teeth in if he didn’t join a union and boasting about giving a “blanket party” in which a person would have a blanket tossed over his head and be beaten, according to the city.
Curley worked for North Las Vegas from 1996 to 2009. He cleaned sewers for the city before being fired.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied Curley’s claim Tuesday that the city fired him in 2009 because of a hearing disability. Curley asked to no longer work with a certain type of truck because its noise was causing his hearing to deteriorate.
Curley argued the timing of his firing, shortly after he filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint, was suspicious.
The record is clear: Curley had been acting this way since the early 2000s, his attorney Michael Balaban said. Balaban noted he was not trying to defend Curley’s conduct. The argument is that the city let the conduct slide until Curley alleged discrimination.
The court agreed with the city that it shouldn’t be punished for attempting to work out discipline with Curley’s union first, North Las Vegas City Attorney Sandra Douglass Morgan said. She said the city had disciplined Curley in the past, so he wasn’t just fired out of the blue.
During the city investigation, which also showed that Curley disparaged the city and wasted company time, he underwent an evaluation, and a doctor determined he wasn’t a danger to himself or others. The 9th Circuit ruled that the evaluation only concluded if he was a present danger, it wasn’t intended to help the city decide how to handle past threats.
One issue about Curley’s work ethic included that he was running an Americans With Disabilities Act consulting business while on the job for North Las Vegas.
After being sacked, Curley lost control, according to a police report. He tracked down the city’s former director of human resources’ adult son, leaving messages that he planned to kill him to teach his father a lesson. He said he knew where he worked and listed details about the building, the report states. He found another city employee’s wife who lived in Chicago and called her, too. He insinuated to people that he had mafia connections.
When North Las Vegas police went to Curley’s home, they found two handguns and a loaded AR-15 rifle.
Curley told officers he was an alcoholic who after 17 years of sobriety had fallen apart after being fired. He confessed, saying he had felt his firing was unjust and that he hadn’t intended to harm anyone. He said his actions were fueled by his drinking.
Curley was hired by the school district as a custodian on June 7, 2013, several months before his arrest.
School district employees are supposed to self-report arrests, district spokeswoman Melinda Malone said. It was unclear by press time if Curley, who is currently employed by the school district, had self-reported or if the district had expressed any concerns about his murky past with North Las Vegas.
Malone said that it isn’t the school district’s practice to hire felons and that if someone is convicted, the district immediately moves for dismissal.
Curley was convicted and sentenced Nov. 20.
Custodians go through the same vetting process as other school support staff, teachers and administrators, according to Malone. That includes a local background check by the Metropolitan Police Department and an FBI background check. Malone said the district also checks custodian applicants’ references.
Douglass Morgan said the decision will benefit public and private employers because it’s published and can be cited in other cases in the region. The decision will embolden employers to not be skittish about firing potentially dangerous employees, she said.
Curley declined to comment through his attorney.
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