Ky. district hiring service, despite problems - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Ky. district hiring service, despite problems

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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) -- A southern Kentucky school board plans to retain a janitorial service provider for two schools, even though the company has placed two employees with drug and sex offense criminal records.

The Bowling Green Daily News reports that GCA Services Group of Knoxville, Tenn., will provide custodial services for the Warren County Board of Education starting July 1. One of the company's employees in Tennessee was charged in 2008 with the rape of a 16-year-old student on school property and the company placed a registered sex offender in a Texas middle school.

Warren County Superintendent Tim Murley told the paper he wasn't aware of the incidents, but the district will proceed with plans to use GCA's services based on assurances from the company that the problems had been satisfactorily addressed.

"Based on the information and assurances we have received from them, I don't see the board reconsidering at this point," board chairman Mike Wilson said. "We have been assured that they have taken proper measures and put effective screening procedures in place since these events occurred two years ago."

GCA was one of six bidders for custodial and grounds maintenance at the school. The company was awarded the job in early April based on its bid of $315,024 for 110 hours of work per week.

GCA Services, which works in more than 150 school districts in 39 states, provides janitorial and custodial services, contamination control in manufacturing and facilities maintenance.

Murley said GCA will be hiring local people who meet the same standards and undergo the same background checks as school system employees. The school district also has taken the additional precaution of locally screening employee candidate background information, he said.

"If we felt in any way uncomfortable with GCA regarding the safety of our students, we would not go forward," Murley said. "Student safety is always our number one priority."

The Tennessee incident involved a GCA employee working at Huntingdon High School. The employee was charged with raping a 16-year-old student in a closet during school hours.

The employee, after being arrested, was found to have a criminal record with charges of aggravated battery, assault and theft of property.

The GCA employee in Texas was a registered sex offender working as a custodian at Chisholm Trail Middle School in Rhome, Texas. The employee was found dead in a school locker room. The man, who had been convicted of indecent exposure in 2006, was found with his pants down and a bag over his head. Investigators determined the cause of death was accidental asphyxiation.

GCA human resources vice president Bernie Decker said the Texas employee passed a background check because he used an alias. The company now, by law, uses fingerprinting and Social Security number checks in establishing an individual's identity, Decker said.

"You have to understand, we hire a lot of people," he said. "I think a couple of incidents with 20,000 employees is a pretty good batting record."

Decker added that both the Texas and Tennessee school districts where the incidents occurred still contract with GCA. The company will employ 15 workers at South Warren Middle and High School when it opens in August as the largest school in Kentucky by square-footage.

"The district made the decision to use contract custodial services because it has become apparent that it is the most cost-effective system," said Joanie Hendricks, Warren County public information coordinator. "We are able to save taxpayers' dollars while still using local workers."

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