Texas High School Hired Convicted Sex Offender for Band Director

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The parents at one Texas high school received some unsettling news on Monday — their former principal hired a band director with a criminal record of lewd conduct, indecency, and the sexual assault of a child.

Fox 26 Houston reported that parents said 43-year-old mariachi band instructor Jose Nino taught at Northside High School for three years before students abruptly learned the instructor would not return for the 2016-17 academic year.

Nino, still listed on the high school’s website as Orchestra Director/Associate Director of Bands, won praises during his tenure at this Houston Independent School District campus. Student mariachi musicians performed at high profile school district events. It turned out, though, in 1998, Nino pleaded no contest to indecency with a child via contact and aggravated sexual assault with a child. He served six years prison. Then, in 2010, authorities arrested him on suspicion of sexual assault of a child and, in 2012, he faced public lewdness charges, according to the Fox 26 report.

Now, over a year after the school severed ties with Nino, parents digest these startling details amid the sudden reassignment of the school’s principal, Julissa Alcantar Martinez, and following the trauma of Hurricane Harvey, which pushed back the school year start date to September 11. Many expressed outrage over how a convicted sex offender could get hired and be allowed such proximity to impressionable underage students, even accompanying them on out-of-town and out-of-state band excursions.

Apparently, the oversight occurred because Martinez hired Nino as a “vendor” and not as a school district employee, thus, skirting the requisite and rigorous criminal background check all Texas teachers undergo. Additionally, Martinez paid Nino out of discretionary funds allotted to the high school.

In a statement, Houston ISD divulged, in 2016, they discovered the “alleged criminal history of a vendor at Northside High School,” then known as Jefferson Davis High. District officials maintained the vendor was never a school district employee and he had no interaction with students since his termination.

Houston ISD said they shored up this loophole “immediately after learning the information about the vendor.” District spokesman Tracy Clemons said that with the Nino disclosure, they applied corrective action to ensure “vendor compliance to the district’s background check requirements” so that hiring educational vendors with criminal records will not happen again.

Last year, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) scored favorably on teacher background checks as part of a nationwide USA Today investigation on how effectively U.S. states tracked teacher sexual misconduct and shared that data to circumvent troubled teachers from getting rehired in classrooms across state lines, which Breitbart Texas reported. However, the study examined employee, not vendor, behavior.

The state’s new teacher sexual misconduct crackdown law, Senate Bill 7, went into effect on September 1, and criminalizes the behavior of education professionals who engage in such illicit conduct and those who fail to report it.

Until Thursday. Martinez served as Northside High’s principal. Late Friday, Breitbart Texas received a statement from the Houston ISD press office announcing they reassigned her and two unidentified assistant principals:

The Northside High School principal and two assistant principals reassigned to off-campus, non-classroom duties. District leadership will work closely with the Northside community and the remaining campus leadership team to ensure there is no disruption to student learning as they prepare to start on Monday. An experienced, veteran administrator will be assigned to Northside while the district evaluates next steps.

Clemons did not confirm if the revelation about Nino’s sex offender history had anything to do with Martinez’s reassignment.

Follow Merrill Hope, a member of the original Breitbart Texas team, on Twitter.

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