The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

November 1, 2013

Safety net: No safeguard is 100 percent foolproof on background checks

ENID, Okla. — A parent’s nightmare made headlines recently when an Enid Public Schools employee was charged with numerous felonies, including lewd molestation, use of a computer to commit a felony and forcible sodomy.

Charges against Patrick Leon Watts, a district bus driver, coach and substitute teacher, stemmed from incidents that took place both before he lived in Enid and after moving here.

All of the victims were between the ages 12 to 17, and Watts’ roles in the Enid school system involved children of the same age.

His school employment recently ended when police alerted the district that two alleged victims of molestations had made reports to Kansas police.

The Enid school district is cooperating with the Enid Police Department to uncover the scope of wrongdoing to protect and reassure students, family members and staff.

Reports of these allegations emphasize the importance of background checks.

And this upsetting and unfortunate incident begs some questions: How did the suspect get hired, and how does the district vet its job candidates?

According to EPS, background checks are done on all full-time employees and coaches.

“In addition to a national background check with fingerprints, district supervisors also carefully review candidates’ references, education and work experience,” said Amber Fitzgerald, human resources and communications director for EPS.

Systems are in place to spot trouble, but no safeguard is 100 percent foolproof.

In Enid’s case, the suspect had no public record of similar incidents. There was no cover-up.

This wasn’t a case where officials tried to sweep a scandal under the rug.

However, a situation this big — Watts faces 21 criminal charges involving four victims — shakes the confidence of school staff, parents, students and players.

That confidence in the safety and security of school and school-related activities is critical.

The best way to recover that confidence is to be candid about what happened in this situation and to be diligent about the background checks in the future, and it appears that is being done.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Never leave a child or a pet alone in a car

    With temperatures soaring to near or above 100, parents need to know they can’t leave their children alone in a locked vehicle. In 10 minutes, a vehicle’s temperature can climb 19 degrees. A child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s, and it only takes a few minutes before a child can become dangerously overheated, according to Safe Kids USA.

    July 23, 2014

  • Will Rogers web.jpg Will Rogers Daily Telegrams 7-24-2014

    I am beginning to believe that Mellon is the poorest Treasurer we ever had. I would like to be Treasurer. Here would be my policy, and you see if it wouldn’t be the best thing for America:
    Save nothing, have nothing in there. Then Congress and the entire nation could have nothing in view only what they made themselves.
    A Candidate.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jeff Mullin mug 2012.jpg State of the state: Things are not as good as they could be

    Draper wants to split Cali up into six separate states — Silicon Valley, around the San Francisco Bay Area; Central California, including cities like Bakersfield; West California, including Los Angeles and its suburbs; South California, including San Diego; North California, centered on Sacramento and Jefferson, in the far northern part of the state.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Voters have decisions to make in August races

    Democrats will have two runoffs to decide. One will be choosing their party’s nominee for state superintendent. Freda Deskin will face John Cox. The winner will face Republican nominee Joy Hofmeister in the November general election.
    The other race is for the party nominee to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn. Jim Rogers will face Connie Johnson. The winner will face Republican nominee U.S. Rep. James Lankford in November.

    July 22, 2014

  • Going postal

    Waukomis residents have the opportunity to have their voices heard in regard to the future of their post office.

    July 22, 2014 1 Story

  • New dorm

    Breaking ground on a new dormitory at Northern Oklahoma College Enid is another step in the evolution of the campus.

    July 20, 2014 1 Story

  • Jeff Mullin mug 2012.jpg Stars in our eyes

    We caught the vision when, in May of 1961, John F. Kennedy told Congress, and the world, that the space race was no longer to be so one-sided.
    “First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth,” he said.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • thumbs up logo.jpg Thumbs up for northwest Okla. communities, where net taxable sales figures are up

    Net taxable sales were up $1,917,774 in Enid, when compared to sales reported in July 2013. The increase amounted to a 2.6 percent increase in sales tax revenue for the city.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Patsy Sorrels.tiff The key to God’s storehouse is in the giving

    Point being, there are a lot of hungry people out there who need to be fed the Bread of Life, and He needs to be served with a smile and a discerning heart.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • David Christy col. use clip.jpg Water, water everywhere?

    As Americans, we have taken water for granted far, far too long. We assume it will always be there, when we turn on the tap.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
House Ads