Fred Kober was a local special education teacher before being promoted to dean of Liberty High School in 2006.
But the promotion didn’t last long after Clark County School District officials discovered his secret: allegations of sexual improprieties with students and female school employees going back decades and involving at least two separate school systems.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that in 1987, when Kober was an assistant principal in that state, he was accused in 14 incidents of inappropriately touching three female students.
Kober eventually resigned although no charges were brought against him because of lack of evidence, the newspaper reported.
Clark County school officials wouldn’t disclose why Kober, who didn’t have a criminal record, was suspended only three days after being named dean.
But sources close to the investigation said it was because he lied on his application when he omitted references to him leaving school districts amid allegations of sexual misconduct. He no longer works for the district.
That is just one of several examples of how teachers have been hired by the school district, the nation’s fifth-largest school system, or remained in classrooms after serious allegations of sexual misconduct have been made against them.
Terri Miller, president of Stop Educator Sexual Abuse, Misconduct and Exploitation, said school districts throughout the nation, including Clark County, have “passed the trash” to other school systems by keeping mum when allegations of sexual misconduct crop up against teachers.
Miller said she learned about many instances where teachers are allowed to resign quietly from school districts.
“School districts would rather save face than save children,” she said.
Miller said cases such as Kober’s are common because too many teachers without criminal records pass through school system hiring processes.
Habitual sex offenders on average work at three school districts before anyone reports them to authorities, she said.
Nevada Superintendent of Public Instruction Keith Rheault said school districts are almost powerless to stop prospective teachers from getting hired if they don’t have a criminal record.
“I don’t know how cases like that can be stopped,” Rheault said.
Miller said to prevent such instances, school systems must develop some type of national database to flag instructors who have been disciplined by their school districts for sexual misconduct.
Sometimes teachers who have been accused of sexual misconduct have continued to teach in school systems even after they were accused of sexual misconduct because their court records were sealed.
In August, a jury found former Clark County elementary school teacher Mark Zana guilty of sexually abusing three of his former students.
Zana was found guilty of three felony counts of lewdness with a minor. The charges stemmed from separate incidents during which he put his hand down the shirts of two former students and touched their breasts.
He also was found guilty of open and gross lewdness with a minor in one incident involving a fifth-grader, who testified that he urged her to reach into his pockets to get candy, and additional charges for possessing child pornography on his home computer.
Back in 1998, Zana was arrested on accusations of touching students inappropriately. The charge was dismissed after a family decided it did not want a child to testify against him. He had the record sealed and kept his job for seven more years.
Zana is now at a Clark County Detention Center jail cell. His case might be retried because a jury member who found Zana guilty is accused of looking up research of him online during the trial.
Court records show that at least one of Zana’s fellow teachers had taken concerns about him touching students to school administrators.
Miller said a state law needs to be strengthened to increase charges from a misdemeanor to a felony for school employees who do not immediately report when teachers are suspected of sexual misconduct to a local law enforcement agency or child protective services.
State law now requires that school employees must report the allegations of sexual misconduct within 24 hours of when a teacher is suspected of having committed sexual misconduct.
Miller said the law is rarely enforced.
In another case, former Lunt Elementary School teacher Carl Leiner was sentenced in January to one to three years in prison after he pleaded guilty to sexually motivated coercion and possession of child pornography.
He was accused of inappropriately touching a fourth-grader in his classroom in 2003.
Leiner was hired by the district in 1999 and was disciplined for having students sit on his lap during reading sessions in the classroom.
The child who was inappropriately touched in class didn’t came forward with the allegation until 2006.
Clark County School District Superintendent Walt Rulffes didn’t know the specifics of the Kober, Leiner and Zana cases. But he said the district does a commendable job screening applicants, especially because it routinely hires more than 2,000 teachers per year.
Rulffes said the district recently began using Factiva, a database system that can locate a prospective teacher’s name in published articles such as newspapers.
The district also checks teacher applicants’ fingerprints with the FBI, Metropolitan Police Department and the Nevada Crime Repository.
Rulffes said the district faces a challenge of remaining diligent about protecting students without impeding teachers’ civil rights.
“We catch most of them before they get here if they have any kind of criminal record,” Rulffes said. “We have to be careful not to do witch hunts on people when it’s not warranted.”