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Ex-convicts to lose teacher certifications

May 06, 1998
By: Margaret Murphy
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Ex-convicts teaching in Missouri schools would lose their certificates under a bill passed Wednesday by the Missouri House.

The measure was sponsored by Rep. Randall Relford, D-Cameron, a former school principal.

Relford dismissed concerns that ex-convicts have already paid their debt to society through their sentences.

"Teachers should be held to a higher standard," Relford said.

A partially-completed computer check conducted by the state Education Department earlier this spring found 23 people with teaching certificates who have been convicted of a felony, and 11 who have what's known as suspended imposition of sentence. Such a sentence allows the defendent to avoid a felony record.

Gov. Mel Carnahan in December ordered a computer check matching teacher names with a list of convicted felons. The match did not cover teachers in private schools.

About 120,000 people are certified to teach in Missouri.

The bill also eliminates tenure for prinicpals in St. Louis public schools.

It now goes to the Senate to approve a technical change before the measure moves on to the governor.

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