A Pennsylvania woman who is supposed to have a life-long ban from teaching, was found to be employed at a local school despite her 2007 criminal conviction of ‘corruption of minors’.
The father of the victim, whom Tara Himes was convicted of engaging in consensual sex acts with when he was 16-years-old, was shocked to discover his son’s abuser was teaching once again.
Himes was found teaching in Greensburg, PA at the Clelian Heights School for Exceptional Children where she was given direct one-on-one contact with children who have physical and emotional disabilities.
The discovery of a teacher with a criminal background involving physical abuse of a child has brought up questions about the school’s background screening policies and procedures. The victim’s father wants to know why Himes is once again working with children and how she was able to pass a background check. “She fell through the cracks,” he said. “She's still working with kids.”
When Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 contacted Himes in regards to their investigation, she claimed that the school knew about her criminal history. When asked about her corruption of minors conviction, Himes replied: “…I kept my own children, and it's been, like, six or seven years ago. I'm over it, and so should everybody else.”
Himes also gave Pittsburgh’s Action 4 News permission to ask the school about their alleged knowledge of her criminal past.
- Action News: “So the school knows about that?”
- Himes: “Yeah. You can call and talk to them. That's fine.”
- Action News: “What did you tell them about that?”
- Himes: “I told them the truth, and I had to fill out a paper, like, two years ago, so they know.”
When the news team contacted the school, Sister Ritamary Schulz, executive director of Clelian Heights, was shocked to learn of the details of Himes’ conviction. Schulz has promised an investigation into how Himes had been hired despite her background. When asked about the school’s background check policy and how Himes could have been granted the employment, Schulz issued the following statement:
"Clelian Heights takes its obligation to protect its students very seriously. We obtain all required background verifications as mandated by law, and if a specific allegation arises at any time, we promptly investigate the facts. However, as a matter of policy, we cannot comment publicly on any personnel issues of any kind…The information at the time of our initial assessment indicated that her misdemeanor conviction did not involve, or even relate to, physical contact with a minor. When other information became known, our assessment changed accordingly."
The victim’s father, however, remains skeptical about the school’s background check policy.
“If they would have did their job properly, did an investigation,” he said, “in my book she wouldn't be working around children.”
Himes is no longer working at Clelian Heights.
Click here to read the full article from Pittsburgh’s Action News 4.