The D.C. police department issued licenses to several school security guards with criminal records, according to a report by the city inspector general office.
Some guards cleared to work in the schools had arrest records for such crimes as possession of cocaine, assault and delivering counterfeit money. The report was particularly critical of the police department, which licenses guards who are then hired by a private security contractor with the school system.
The report from Inspector General Austin A. Andersen's office said some guards might not have been permitted to work in the schools if their criminal backgrounds were "sufficiently reviewed." It said some people got jobs "who may pose a risk to the secure environment of students and staff."
The report was based on random checks of guards employed by the school system's former contractor, Watkins Security Agency. Another company, Hawk One Security Inc., recently took over the security duties. Hawk One is requiring any Watkins employees who want to remain on the job to reapply.
Assistant Police Chief Gerald M. Wilson, who oversees school security, said more extensive background checks and training are being done. He said 13 guards were released because of criminal activity.
The inspector general randomly conducted background checks on 30 of 400 school security guards to see if they had any criminal charges that would have prevented them from obtaining a license to work in the schools. Although some were not prosecuted, eight of the 30 had criminal histories. The findings were reported yesterday by the Washington Times.
Four had falsified their employment applications, according to the inspector general's report.
The criminal histories of those four guards were not flagged by the police department, which had access to their criminal files, the report said. Two of them had felony convictions, which made them ineligible to be licensed, but the police still approved them.
Even when the criminal backgrounds were listed in personnel records, police did not properly share the information with Watkins Security, the report said.
The report was released in a draft form to the police department, schools system and Watkins Security. A final report is expected today or Monday, Andersen said yesterday.
"It's 100 percent the police department's responsibility to ensure the people hired have clean background checks," said Donna Henry, spokeswoman for Watkins. "They have dropped the ball."
Last September, the inspector general found other security weaknesses in the schools, including unguarded doors.
Staff writer V. Dion Haynes contributed to this report.