Schools ax employees who contributed to hiring of sex offender

Wednesday, April 1, 2009 at 1:00am

Three Metro Nashville Public Schools human resources employees were asked to resign, following a district investigation linking lax hiring practices with the employment of Ronald Boykin, a Donelson Middle School teacher charged recently by Metro Nashville Police on counts of sexual assault and battery by an authority figure.

Boykin has an outstanding warrant for sex offenses in Chattanooga, and resigned from a job with Hamilton County Schools while still under investigation. Boykin wrote on his job application when he applied to work at MNPS that he was under investigation, but was nonetheless hired by Metro as a support employee two years ago.

Boykin’s background went unnoticed a second time last year, when his status as a district employee changed from support worker to teacher, according to MNPS spokesperson Noelle Mashburn. The Nashville charges against Boykin stem from the alleged molestation of two boys, who are now ages 14 and 15, over approximately the past 18 months. Boykin met both boys at Donelson Middle School, according to police.

Following a district review of the hiring practices that led to Boykin’s employment, MNPS has asked three human resources employees to resign, effective immediately: Jo Patterson, director of support human resources; Darilyn Mason, support staff registrar; and Melissa Mundy, human resources senior account clerk.

In addition, MNPS has suspended longtime employee Gene Foster, director of 9-12 human resources, for five days without pay and issued a written reprimand. The suspension is a result of failing to independently review Boykin’s application when Boykin was transferred from support status to a certificated position.

Metro officials are currently reviewing job applications and background search documents for all of MNPS’s approximately 5,000 support workers, according to Mashburn.

“The safety of our students is our top priority,” Mashburn said.

The resignations follow a wave of three MNPS employees charged with sex-related counts in the last month. In addition to Boykin, Bob Epley, who supervises Metro school bus drivers, has been charged with hiring children to perform sexual acts. And earlier in March, Kennedy Middle School Principal Ronald B. Anderson was arrested on 12 counts of sexual battery by an authority figure.

Both Boykin and Anderson are currently suspended by the district without pay while investigations take place, according to Mashburn, and Epley resigned from the district Monday.