weather icon Clear

Audit: Reporting of Nevada teacher convictions slow

CARSON CITY — The Nevada Department of Education does not have an adequate license revocation process for teachers or administrators convicted of crimes, with notification of arrests taking in some cases up to 1,200 days, an audit released Tuesday shows.

The state’s top public educator said schoolchildren have not been at risk despite the audit findings.

The Legislative Counsel Bureau performance audit of the state Education Department showed that notification of arrests ranged from one day to 1,200 days, with an average of 367 days.

The audit also found that for 10 of 13 cases reviewed, the department’s Office of Educator Licensure was not notified of the arrest by the involved school district. Instead, it learned of the arrest through office staff who followed local news reports.

For five licenses that were revoked, it took from 660 days to 184 days from the conviction date to the revocation.

The audit also found that for two other teachers found guilty of sex crimes in 2013, licenses were not revoked in a timely manner. The office’s website listed both teachers as having active licenses as of March 4, 2014, the audit found.

The audit focused on a time frame of July 2012 to March 2014.

“The lengthy time to revoke licenses of persons convicted of crimes was caused by a lack of supervisory oversight and insufficient procedures for tracking and revoking licenses,” the audit said.

Auditors made nine recommendations to improve the licensure process, all of which were accepted by the department.

The audit was reviewed and accepted by the Legislative Commission’s Audit Subcommittee.

Dale Erquiaga, state superintendent of public instruction since August 2013, said the office has made significant improvements to ensure the revocation process works properly.

“One of the most critical licensure functions is keeping children safe in schools,” he said. “Over the years, probably because of the growth in volume, those processes were not what they should be.”

Erquiaga said the office is now complying with the law and can move expeditiously to revoke the license of an educator convicted of a crime and who should not be in a classroom. School districts are also now required to report arrest information to the department, he said.

But he also noted that while teaching licenses have not always been revoked in a timely manner by the department, local school districts have always done a good job of monitoring their own employees.

“They know, and have known, if an individual committed a crime or shouldn’t be in a classroom,” Erquiaga said. “They took the disciplinary action. What we found in these audit recommendations is, the individuals had been removed from the classroom. It’s just that their licenses had not been revoked.”

Parents should be confident that the appropriate action is being taken at the district level, he said.

Other findings in the audit included the failure of the office to properly issue or monitor provisional licenses. The licenses were being issued for one year instead of a 120-day maximum allowed under state regulations.

The office also had inadequate information to monitor the status of an applicant’s criminal history report. Data entry errors were found in 26 percent of fingerprint cards submitted between July 2012 and December 2013.

The office also did not process the criminal history reports in a timely manner. While the average time improved from 204 days in 2012 to 82 days in 2013, further improvement is needed, the audit said.

“Delays in the process for reviewing criminal history reports increases the risk that the office will not timely identify a provisional licensee with a criminal history that warrants an invalidation of license,” the audit said.

The practice of the office is to invalidate a provisional license upon discovering that an individual had been convicted of a felony. But auditors said licenses could be denied for misdemeanor crimes involving moral turpitude as well, something the office has not yet done.

Misdemeanor crimes that could be included for license denial include child luring, failure to report child abuse or neglect and false imprisonment, among others.

The department is addressing the issue.

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900. Find him on Twitter: @seanw801.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
Elizabeth Warren visits Las Vegas
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Tuesday July 2, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Aaron Ford Speaks About Bill AB431
AB431 is a bill sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke at the AM&E Church in North Las Vegas about the bill, on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Olivia Diaz talks about her win in Ward 3 - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Councilwoman-elect Olivia Diaz talks about her election win in Ward 3 and what lies ahead for her.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
Bernie Sanders visits Las Vegas
Sen. Bernie Sanders made a stop at Roy W. Martin middle school on Thursday, during his campaign trail.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Las Vegas
Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris castigated President Donald Trump’s merit-based immigration plan, saying it was “short-sighted” and overlooked the cultural significance of family, during a campaign stop in Las Vegas. “We cannot allow people to start parsing and pointing fingers and creating hierarchies among immigrants,” Harris told Asian Pacific Islander leaders at a Chinatown restaurant, one of two appearances she made Thursday.
The Right Take New Education Funding Plan - VIDEO
On Monday, Senate Education Committee chair Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, released a new education funding formula. For years, many Democrat politicians have criticized the current education funding formula, called the Nevada Plan. They claim it’s old and outdated. Their biggest beef is that it doesn’t allocate more money for students who are English Language Learners or live in poverty. The theory is that it’s harder to educate those students and so they need additional services, which costs additional money.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Nevada
California Senator Kamala Harris meets with One APIA Nevada, a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies empowering Asian Pacific Islander Nevadans. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ben Carson talks housing (Audio only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Ben Carson visits the RJ (Full Audio Only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in Nevada
After campaigning at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 16 in Henderson, former Vice President Joe Biden spoke with the Review-Journal.
Student serenades Mayor Carolyn Goodman at swearing in
Students from the school she founded, The Meadows School, serenaded Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman during a swearing in ceremony for her third and final term. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Al Gore Speaks At UNLV About Climate Change - Video
Former Vice President of the United States Al Gore talks to an audience at UNLV about the effects of Climate change and how to switch to renewable sources of energy.
Forum on Wages and Working People Highlights - VIDEO
Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro, and John Hickenlooper speak in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Nevada Politics Today Valerie Weber - VIDEO
Valerie Weber sits down with Victor Joecks to discuss her policies and why she is running for Ward 2 of the Las Vegas City Council.
Cory Booker speaks at UNLV
US Senator Cory Booker speaks at UNLV during a Young Democrats meet and greet on Thursday, April 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
UNR dorms damaged in blast to remain closed for 1-2 years

Both dormitories damaged in a natural gas explosion at the University of Nevada, Reno, will stay closed for at least a year and one won’t reopen until the fall of 2021.