Vetting process reviewed for teaching candidates - | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Vetting process reviewed for teaching candidates

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A former teacher out of Miles City is behind bars, accused of having sexual relations with a 15 year old student.

The Custer County Sheriff's office said Morgan Pett is charged with multiple counts of sexual intercourse without consent.

Pett was arrested after his wife allegedly found nude photos of a student on his computer.

This raises concerns and  questions surrounding the teacher vetting process.

Following Pett's arrest, Wake Up Montana's Mary Jane Belleza reached out to the Public of Office Instruction to learn more on how they screen for teaching candidates.

Director of Communications Dylan Klapmeier said teaching candidates must undergo a background check, a fingerprinting and their name is run through a searchable database called the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC).

This allows the OPI to see if a teaching candidate has been reprimanded by a school or terminated for any reported unethical behavior.

Since Montana is a local controlled state with education, the OPI said it is also the school district's responsibility to do additional research on a candidate which includes reviewing a candidate's social media profile or double checking with their references.

"So, it's up to that hiring committee, that principal, school building that they're going to be in," said Klapmeier. "They're the ones who are really going to be diving into that candidate's resume and background.There really should be procedures in place at the local level now to where those hiring committees are doing additional research to find out who that person is that they're bringing into their classroom."

Klapmeier said student safety is their first priority.

Over the past year the Office of Public Instruction has been reviewing their vetting process. 

They want to ensure a teaching candidate meets all their requirements and pass their background checks, this includes communication with local school districts and ensuring schools are doing that additional research.