Teaching assistant fired after details of his past surface

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A Memphis charter school fired a teaching assistant after learning details about his work history.

KIPP Memphis Preparatory Middle said the former employee initially passed the background check required by state law. However, after learning other details about the teaching assistant's past, the school decided to fire him.

KIPP leaders would not confirm the teacher assistant's name or what they learned that caused them to fire the employee.

The school sent the following letter to parents:

I am writing to provide an update regarding a personnel change at the school.
A week ago, we hired an individual as an administrative and teacher assistant. The employee passed all initial background checks required by the state of Tennessee We recently learned of additional information about the employee's work history. Based on this information, the employee no longer works at KIPP Memphis Preparatory Middle School.

LaShantar Sains was just one of the KIPP parents to receive the email from the school.

"Some people fall through the cracks and maybe he was just one of them," Sains said.

Parents said the assistant fired from KIPP was previously accused in a lawsuit of taking inappropriate videos and pictures of students and teachers at a school where he was principal in Mississippi.

Criminal charges were not brought against him in that case.

"We did what every teacher, every staff member has to do when they work with students in Tennessee," Chief of Schools Terrance Johnson said. "He did that and nothing came back (on the background check)."

Johnson said the background checks applied only to Tennessee. He said school administrators took action when they found additional background information and they fired the staff member after hiring him just a week ago.

Parents said the school handed the situation quickly.

"I think it is terrible, but the school reacted fast," Sains said.

Sains said this incident should not reflect poorly on the KIPP Preparatory Middle School.

"I love it too. I think it's a great school," Sains said.

Parents attended a PTO meeting Tuesday evening that was not open to the media. It's unclear if the recent firing of the teacher assistant was brought up in that meeting.

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