Teacher's rape arrest raises hiring concerns

Parents in the Three Village School District are questioning state law after a gym teacher with a criminal record was arrested on rape charges Thursday.
Dr. Ronald Friedman, head of the Nassau Superintendents Council, says state education officials may know about a teacher?s arrests or convictions and not tell the school districts about it.
That was case with Michael Wachholder, who is accused of raping a bartender inside a Mount Sinai bar several weeks ago. Wachholder teaches physical education at Arrowhead Elementary School. The school district released a statement Thursday saying it did not know about Wachholder?s criminal history ?because of their status as ?violations? and not as misdemeanors or felonies, meaning that in the eyes of the law, he had no criminal record.?
The state told the Three Village School District it could hire Wachholder as a gym teacher, even though he has at least five prior arrests and one misdemeanor conviction for driving while impaired.
Friedman says that?s the law and that districts never see a rap sheet on potential hires. Instead, the state sends letters reading "fingerprint clearance for employment.?
Even if the potential employee is cleared by the state, some school superintendents do a little more research, either online or through companies that specialize in background checks.