Missouri revokes 160 teaching certificates

Monday, May 6, 2002

The Associated Press

ST. LOUIS -- Since Missouri began requiring criminal background checks of certified educators in mid-1998, the state has revoked the certificates of 160 educators and denied them to 20 applicants, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported in Sunday's editions.

The violations ran the gamut. Some were as serious as murder, rape and child molestation. But other offenses included illegal drug possession, assault and forgery.

In some cases, those who lost their certificates had not set foot in a classroom in years, if ever. In other cases, educators with criminal pasts continued to work with children in Missouri schools.

Jimmy Tansil was among the former group. He went to prison in 1987 for molesting six girls at a St. Louis elementary school. He lost his right to vote and his freedom, but until last year he kept his license to teach in Missouri schools. He had been released from prison in 1998.

Meanwhile, there is no guarantee that children will never meet a former felon at school. Though Missouri checks teachers, principals, counselors, librarians and other employees with certificates, it does not regularly screen bus drivers, janitors, secretaries and other noncertified employees.

Peggy Cochran, executive director of the Missouri State Teachers Association, said her group wants to do everything to keep children safe. So why not screen other school employees, too?

"We do think what's good for certified people should be good for everyone," Cochran said.

The number of people with records in public schools is small compared to the total teaching force. Missouri has 90,000 certified educators working in public schools, and more than 300,000 people who hold teaching licenses but may not be working in education.

But those few offenses can be startling. Other examples of educators who've lost their licenses:

Joseph A. Humphrey, convicted of sexual abuse in 1995. Four years later he was teaching in the Hurley School District, 20 miles southwest of Springfield, when his lifetime certificates in social studies and counseling were revoked.

Michael D. Williams, a Wentzville School District music teacher who performed sex acts with three of his students from 1993 through last year. In November, he pleaded guilty to 13 counts of felony statutory sodomy and four counts of felony statutory rape and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. His certification was revoked in February.

Beverly Jaynes of Webster Groves, who was convicted of murder in 1999 for the fatal shooting of her husband at Lambert Airport in 1991. She lost her teaching licenses in English and social studies in 2000. Records show she was not teaching at the time.

Royal C. Crase, charged with sexually abusing a child at his home in 1987. He was a resource teacher at Riverview Gardens Middle School and worked with children with learning disabilities or behavioral problems. He pleaded guilty in 1995, and the state revoked his four teaching certificates in 1998. Records do not indicate he was teaching at the time of the revocations.

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