A Higley school board member blasted her colleagues for not allowing parents to comment at a meeting Wednesday night on a band assistant recently charged with raping a student.
The call to the public was removed from the agenda to prevent comment on the arrest of Jeremy Ross Calvert, a former Higley High School employee.
“It is my firm assertion that this is a topic of public concern and that in order to preserve transparency in governance and to show respect to the community, this discussion should take place in public,” board member Kim Anderson said in a letter she distributed to the audience prior to the meeting.
Anderson has criticized the district for not doing a fingerprint clearance on Calvert before hiring him. Anderson voted against the approval of Wednesday’s agenda that removed public comment on the issue. But board president Ed Moore said the decision was made based on legal advice.
“Call to the public is not the place to discuss personnel or staff,” he said before the meeting started. “Some of the e-mails that I’ve received are so far beyond what is known to be fact, I don’t believe it’s appropriate (to allow comment) at (this) time.”
Calvert, 20, was arrested Jan. 9 and is accused of raping a student in November when he was employed by the district.
In the 17 months Calvert worked for Higley, he did not undergo a fingerprint background check. District officials have maintained Calvert, a noncertified employee, did not need a fingerprint clearance to work, provided he was supervised.
After the board’s closed executive session Wednesday night, the district’s attorney, Denise Lowell-Britt, read a statement that the alleged rape did not occur during school hours or during band practice. She said it appears Calvert was giving private lessons, and had not informed the administration he was giving lessons on district property on the evening in question.
Board policy that allows noncertified employees to work without a fingerprint clearance, provided they are supervised, is consistent with state law, she said. She also said that Calvert did not have a criminal record and a fingerprint check would not have prevented his hire. Lowell-Britt said district administration has cooperated with law enforcement.