Convicted sex offenders keeping NC teaching licenses?

That’s what’s being alleged out there.  And who is responsible for policing these licenses?  The NC Department of Public Instruction, of course.  Catherine Truitt, the current superintendent of that agency, is up for reelection on March 5.

Here’s what’s being reported:

We’ve been told during the primary that the Superintendent of Public Instruction has no power, but that’s not true. Catherine Truitt’s office can suspend, investigate, and revoke teachers’ licenses if they have been accused of committing crimes against children.

Due to Truitt’s lack of oversight, at least two convicted pedophiles hold North Carolina teaching licenses today.

Parker Ethan Brown, a fifth-grade teacher in Pender County, was arrested on September 29, 2022, for six charges of second-degree sexual exploitation of minors, one charge of third-degree sexual exploitation of minors for possessing child pornography, and one charge of possession of drug paraphernalia

Upon his arrest, Brown immediately resigned from Pope Elementary School according to reports.

In January 2024, Brown was finally convicted after keeping his teaching license for 16 months without suspension.

Today Parker Brown has a North Carolina teaching license in good standing according to DPI’s database, even after being placed on the sex offender registry.

?Shawn Hicks, former Harnett County Teacher of the Year, was fired after he was arrested on three charges of sex crimes against a student on April 6, 2022, according to a WRAL report.

Hicks used both his position as a teacher and as a pastor at a church in Bunn to lure students to his home, sources told WRAL News.Under Catherine Truitt’s supervision, this accused pedophile kept his license for two years, without suspension.

He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of child abuse and was sentenced on February 2nd, 2024.[….]

Last year, it was revealed that the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s (DPI) teacher licensing and sanctioning process had serious lapses. Several school boards and principals in Lee and Onslow counties contacted Superintendent Truitt regarding teachers who had surrendered their teaching licenses after being investigated for sex abuse crimes.

However, they still had their licenses.

Truitt’s official policy is to wait until a guilty verdict is handed down before acting on teachers charged with sex crimes. In reality, Truitt’s predecessors had followed the suspension process for decades before DPI’s lawyer incorrectly wrote in emails to school officials that there was no legal process for suspending licenses: [….]

Last year Catherine Truitt refused to revoke the license of another convicted pedophile and former teacher Jeremy Flock after a watchdog group brought it to her attention. Representative Tricia Cotham and Senator Amy Galey intervened and convinced Truitt to revoke the pedophile’s license by state law.[…]

It’s pretty clear that our public school system is a huge, nightmarish bureaucratic mess.  It’s looking pretty clear — judging from this report and others — that the current state schools superintendent does not have a handle on the situation.