May 29, 2008

Investigation Reveals Drug, Sex Offenders Employed By School Services Contractor

NAPLES, Fla., May 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Bolton Investigations Inc. released results today of a preliminary investigation revealing that a school services contractor with ties to the Collier County schools superintendent has hired workers for public school assignments with criminal backgrounds, including sex and drug offenders.

GCA Services Group, based in Knoxville, Tenn., provides private custodial services and previously worked for a school district that employed Superintendent Dennis Thompson when he was in Rockford, Ill. The company has been communicating with Thompson about obtaining a contract with Collier County schools in a move that would cut 250 school custodians represented by the Teamsters Union.

The Teamsters Union commissioned Bolton Investigations Inc. of Coral Gables, Fla., to investigate safety and security issues surrounding GCA's operations and employment practices. This research was conducted by retired police Lt. Pablo Garcia.

"Our preliminary investigation found that in at least three instances, GCA Services hired sex offenders, drug offenders and thieves who ended up working in public schools," Garcia said. "This should be of great concern to the community. Clearly there is a need for further investigation of GCA and its hiring practices."

   Garcia's findings include:    --  In October 2006, investigators searched the house of a custodian hired       by GCA in an elementary school in the Medina Valley School District in       Texas. They recovered valuable stolen school property, including a       sawed-off shotgun, cocaine, and drug paraphernalia.    --  In October 2007 a convicted sex offender working as a GCA school       custodian was found dead in a boy's locker room in Chisholm Trail       Middle School in Rhome, Texas. His pants were down and a bag over his       head. He had been convicted the year before of indecent exposure       involving a child, investigators said.    --  In March 2008, a GCA custodian at Huntingdon High in Tennessee, was       charged with raping a 16-year-old girl in a closet at the high school       during school hours.   

Sarah Poteet, mother of a Collier County high school student said: "I have a 15-year old daughter who attends Palmetto Ridge High School. When I found out about some of the people that GCA Services had hired in other schools, all I could think about was her safety. I am extremely alarmed. I do not want her getting raped in a closet at school."

The investigation noted the need for careful examination of any decision to contract out services that involve contact with children in schools. The findings prompted concern for area parents.

The Teamsters Union has urged the School Board to carefully study the effects of potential outsourcing of custodial work and other services, and to weigh the safety and security of students. The union believes that the safety of our kids should be the number one priority. It is not at all clear that the School Board and other district officials agree with this point.

Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents more than 1.4 million hardworking men and women in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Teamsters Local 79, Tampa, Florida

CONTACT: David White of International Brotherhood of Teamsters,+1-202-439-1904, [email protected]