A quirk of Tennessee’s criminal background checks allowed a rape suspect to be hired as a teacher in Metro Schools.
Ronald Boykin, 40, was arrested March 22 in Nashville on two counts of rape, one count of sexual battery by an authority figure and one count of attempted sexual battery by an authority figure dating to 2005, when he was working in a Chattanooga high school. A Donelson Middle School teacher hired by Metro Schools in 2007, he was picked up after a routine traffic stop turned up the charges.
Three background checks on Boykin initiated by Metro Schools did not detect the outstanding warrants, said Noelle Mashburn, spokeswoman for the district. The most recent check was in October.
That’s because background checks run for school districts do not include warrants, said Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Kristin Helm.
“A fingerprint-based criminal history for a teacher is what’s statutorily required,” Helm said. “There is no Tennessee database that can be searched for outstanding warrants unless you’re in law enforcement.”
Also allowing Boykin to slip through the cracks: Tennessee’s teacher database, which flags educators who have committed serious offenses, doesn’t include those without teaching licenses. Boykin’s job in Chattanooga didn’t require a license.
Boykin was returned to Hamilton County this week, but Metro police say they have identified at least two Nashville students who say Boykin touched them. Police are investigating more cases and are asking Donelson Middle parents to contact 862-7540 if they have any information.
No charges against Boykin have been filed in Nashville.
He is the second Metro Schools teacher arrested on sex-related charges this month. Ronald B. Anderson, executive principal of Kennedy Middle School in Antioch, was arrested March 6 on 12 counts of sexual battery by an authority figure. He was charged with sexually abusing two teenage boys from his church years ago.
Boykin, who taught a behavior program for struggling students, was busted for making an illegal left turn onto westbound Interstate 24 from the Second Avenue on-ramp, police said.
Officers discovered his license was expired and ran an in-depth check, which turned up the warrant in Hamilton County.
In 2005, Boykin was suspended from his job as an educational assistant at Brainerd High School after police launched an investigation into misconduct that occurred before the start of school. A warrant for his arrest was issued in
2006, according to Metro police.
School districts that request background checks get a nationwide search of any records the FBI holds that contain the fingerprint of the applicant, so a report is generated any time they’ve been fingerprinted and arrested in the United States.
Until this week, Boykin had never been arrested on the Chattanooga charges.
Criminal warrants are contained in a name-based database called the National Crime Information Center or NCIC, commonly used by officers during investigations or traffic stops.
Serious offenses against teachers must be reported to the state Board of Education and are tracked in a statewide database available to other Tennessee systems and the public. But it only applies to licensed educators, which at the time of the Chattanooga incidents Boykin was not.
Records show that Boykin did not request a teaching permit until 2007. The next year, he was granted an alternative teaching license.
Mashburn, the district spokeswoman, said she did not know the status of Boykin’s employment, adding that he would not return to the classroom until the investigation was complete.
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