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What's the vetting process for MSCS hires?

The district is now addressing concerns about its staff vetting procedures after a teacher was indicted this week.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Former middle and elementary school teacher Joseph Blodgett was indicted on sex crimes against children. 

Blodgett, 47, taught at Oakhaven Middle School and Wells Station Elementary school. His employment ended in May 2022, according to the district.

Blodgett is currently in jail on a $10 million bond on charges of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a child, sexual exploitation of a child, soliciting, and extortion. 

According to court documents, Blodgett produced sexual content with a child from October 2020 to May 2022. He also, in that time, produced and possessed more than 100 pieces of content depicting a minor engaging in sexual activity. 

As more information is being learned, some parents are now wondering what is the district's vetting process for teachers in the school district. 

RELATED: Where does MSCS stand on district enrollment and truancy?

In a statement to ABC24 MSCS said, "Like Districts across the country, Memphis-Shelby County Schools uses multiple recruitment methods. We extend offers to eligible candidates in accordance with the law and Board policies, which are posted online." 

The district went on to say, "We work to ensure the safety of all students and employees by upholding local, state, and federal laws. Prior to finalizing an employment offer, all prospective MSCS employees must give a fingerprint sample and submit to a background check conducted by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation."

As it concerns students or staff reporting potential complaints, they say, "We also provide multiple avenues for individuals to report a concern, including anonymous hotlines and text messaging. We will continue to work with our community partners to make our schools, city, and county safer and the workforce countywide stronger."

Danette Stokes, the president of the United Education Association of Shelby County, emphasized teachers' work to ensure schools remain productive and safe. 

"We are doing our part. We are making sure that they are learning; their learning environment is a good safe learning environment because our students' learning environments are our working conditions," Stokes said.

RELATED: MSCS: Former middle, elementary school teacher arrested for 'crimes against children'

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