By Jeff Kolkey
The arrest of a Harlem Middle School teacher on charges she had sex with a female basketball player while serving as a coach in Belvidere is unlikely to spark a significant change in teacher hiring practices.
Harlem School District Superintendent Julie Morris said Harlem already has stringent hiring process in place. This is the first time a teacher from a Harlem school has faced these kind of charges since Morris was hired as superintendent in 2007, she said.
“I always want to review hiring practices and we do so on a regular basis,” Morris said. “But there is nothing in the hiring practice we would do differently because we have a very tight, very comprehensive hiring process. So I wouldn’t say this particular situation would warrant a revamping of that process.”
Darcee Baney, 27, of Loves Park was charged Tuesday with five counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and five counts of criminal sexual abuse. A Harlem science teacher for five years and a girls’ seventh-grade basketball coach, Baney was placed on administrative leave Sept. 5 when the district was informed of the pending investigation.
None of the allegations against her have been proven.
The alleged offenses occurred during the 2008-09 season, but were not reported to authorities until early August. Because they occurred in Rockford, the case was investigated by the Rockford Police Department.
The alleged victim was 17 years old at the time and Baney was her varsity basketball coach at Belvidere High School.
Despite state laws that require a thorough criminal background check, teachers who allegedly prey on students occasionally slip into the system. Area school districts send teacher candidates to the Boone-Winnebago Regional Office of Education for a fingerprint-based criminal background check.
Criminal records are checked nationally by the FBI and the Illinois State Police.
In Harlem, teachers are interviewed by at least two members of the administration and references are checked in addition to the criminal background check.
Although relatively rare, teacher-involved sex crimes tend to be shocking because of the nature of the allegations and because teachers hold a respected position of authority over their victims, officials said.
Rockford School District has a similar hiring process in place as Harlem, Chief Human Resources Officer Angel Contreras said.
Although police departments often deploy psychological testing of candidates, school districts have not adopted such programs, Contreras said.
Cost would be a question along with the validity and reliability of psychological testing.
This article was written by Jeff Kolkey and originally published on rrstar