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Whittier Elementary parent wants hiring process reviewed after employee's indecent exposure arrest

Posted at 5:41 PM, Jan 10, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-11 11:33:04-05

BOZEMAN — Last week, a Whittier Elementary employee was taken into custody after he allegedly sent nude images of himself to an investigator in Vermont posing as a 14-year-old girl. Parents within the district are now unsettled by who the district is hiring.

"It is very unsettling," says Sophia Resop.

Sophia Resop's 4-year-old daughter is a Pre-K special education student at Whittier Elementary. She says she didn't hear the news of paraprofessional Brian Kilcoyne's arrest until three days after the fact.

"I heard it on the news. I'm making dinner. I didn't hear it from a teacher, I didn't hear it from the superintendent, I didn't hear it from the principal," says Resop. "There is no transparency in the school system."

She believes the hiring process needs to change. In addition to background checks, Resop wants to see personality tests and higher pay.

"I think that if we valued the training that we give to people more, then they would be more satisfied with their jobs. We might have more employee retention," says Resop.

Pat Strauss, director of human resources for Bozeman Public Schools, says the district is taking every measure possible to hire the safest candidates, including extensive interviews, reference checks, and an FBI-certified fingerprint background check.

"We ask about their experience working with children. We ask very direct questions about are there any reasons, you know, why this person should not be working with children," says Strauss. "In my tenure here since 2007, we've never seen a report of anybody that's had issues with child abuse or anything like that. And obviously, that'd be a disqualifier."

Strauss says the district hiring process is diligent, and something like Kilcoyne's arrest is not predictable.

"I'm confident in our process. I think the unfortunate thing when you work with, you know, with people is that there's no way to know what's going on necessarily with what someone's doing on a computer at home," says Strauss.

Resop says she wants the district and parents to work together to better protect their kids. whether it's through parent volunteers or a better hiring process.

"They are together with us, the school system is," says Resop, "so it's my job and their job combined. It's not just anyone's job."

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