By Ashley Bland
[email protected]

Convicted felon Victor Thomas, a former Orange County Sheriff ’s captain, has been teaching Student Success courses at Valencia’s West and Osceola campuses for almost two years, which raises the queston:
“What happened to background checks?” According to Orangeclerk.com, the official web site for the Orange County Clerk of Courts, Thomas was charged with drug and counterfeit goods trafficking. He was imprisoned for six years, starting in 2001.

Valencia has issued a statement on what actions the Human Resources department is taking to review the future hiring of felons. Valencia’s assistant vice president of human resources, Joe Livingston, said “because there is no policy for hiring someone with a criminal record, it is possible for someone with that circumstance to be hired.”

Stanley Stone, vice president of human resources and diversity, has yet to comment on the hiring of Thomas, or on the employment circumstances of Marcelo Alves, a VCC contract worker who was arrested on West campus and accused of sexual battery and kidnapping. Messages left for Stone by the Voice March 31 were not returned.

Valencia’s statement issued March 31 states “Mr. Thomas has been put on paid administrative leave through the end of the semester. His future employment with Valencia is undetermined. In addition to these actions, Valencia will immediately begin our current hiring policies and procedures to determine why the external background check did not return any information on Mr. Thomas’ criminal history.”

Thomas did reveal his conviction on his employment application. Apparently, Valencia’s hiring process isn’t extensive, but rather simple; moreover, when a candidate is “qualified” for employment, he or she is permitted to sign a release form for a background check. Valencia then gathers sensitive information from
the prospect and puts it in the hands of Elite Services, a company hired by Valencia to perform background checks for the pre-employed. Once the report is sent back to the HR department, a conclusion is made for employment.

It is an option to apply for restoration of civil rights for a convicted felon however, a representative for Florida’s Office of Executive Clemency stated “the duration of the process for a felon to be denied or considered for restoration varies and is based on what the felon has accomplished following their release of imprisonment.”

Should former drug dealers be able to teach classes? If so, shouldn’t students have the right to know about the criminal history of a teacher prior to taking a class?

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