Hiring felon without conducting background check was irresponsible

Former director of teaching certification Donna Johnson was indicted on charges of aggravated theft and tampering with records at former Cleveland charter school, the Imani Institute. 

In a simple Google search of “Donna Johnson Imani Institute,” the first article offers a detailed chronicle of Johnson’s crimes dating from 2003 to 2011 by Cleveland.com. The article was published before Tulane hired Johnson and revealed that Johnson told the court she was close to landing a job that would start in September. Johnson started working for Tulane as an adjunct professor in fall 2012.

Her charges were well-documented in this article, and Tulane was severely negligent in hiring an educator with a track record for misspending at former schools. Executive Director of Public Relations Mike Strecker said Tulane’s policy is to perform background checks on all new hires except faculty and students. Tulane originally hired Johnson as a faculty member, so she was not subject to a background check.

Johnson’s misspending was well-documented, though, and hiring her was a serious financial liability for the university. Neglecting to conduct background checks on faculty members could put both the university and its students in danger, especially since, as this incident reveals, the university cannot automatically trust what applicants report about their past.

Tulane should run routine background checks on all of its potential educators to ensure the safety and security of the community. Johnson’s charges were serious, but failure to check educators’ backgrounds could directly affect students’ safety in the future.

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