The Bowling Green City Schools Board of Education has not publicly addressed the issue of the district hiring a coach who had previously been found guilty of a sex offense and has been indicted locally on other charges.
City resident Steven Bateson attended Tuesday’s school board meeting and asked when members will discuss why no background check was done on a coach who worked through a third-party contract.
Zachary Gibson, 30, of Bowling Green, was never employed directly by the school district, but worked with high school basketball and baseball team members as a strength and conditioning coach. He was employed through Fastrak Performance.
He was indicted last week by a Wood County grand jury for two counts of sexual battery, both third-degree felonies; two counts of illegal use of minor or impaired person in nudity-oriented material or performance, both fifth-degree felonies; and attempted illegal use of minor or impaired person in nudity-oriented material or performance, also a fifth-degree felony.
According to the indictment, Gibson allegedly engaged in sexual conduct with the same 16-year-old while he was a coach “or otherwise in a position of temporary or occasional disciplinary control over the boy.”
The offenses allegedly occurred on or about March 1-April 30.
The district held a community meeting in April, which was attended by around 75 people.
According to Bateson, at that meeting, Superintendent Francis Scruci said that everyone deserves a second chance and many people regret what they did when they were 18 years old.
“That’s not acceptable,” Bateson said. “Toilet papering a house at 18 is one thing, but having inappropriate contact with a 14-year-old boy is another.”
Gibson was sentenced in November 2010 in Hardin County Municipal Court for disseminating matter harmful to juveniles, a misdemeanor offense, according to the Ada Herald.
He had been arrested in a park restroom after village police were alerted to text messages Gibson, who was 18 at the time, had sent a 14-year-old boy.
Scruci said at that April parent meeting that he had approved Gibson’s hiring through Fastrak Performance, Bateson said.
“When is the board going address the issue at hand, that has faced this community since April,” Bateson said.
He said he has been told by Scruci it is not board policy to have third-party contractors go through a background check.
As an independent contractor, Bowling Green schools paid Fastrak Performance, located in Perrysburg, who then paid Gibson. Background checks are not always conducted on independent contractors, a company spokesman said in April.
At that time, Bowling Green administrators said that they do not conduct background checks on third-party contractors such as those hired through Fastrak.
“It’s unbelievable to me. It’s unacceptable to me,” Bateson said.
He said his wife has volunteered in the schools and chaperoned field trips and had to undergo a background check.
Bateson said it’s understandable to have third-party contractors doing roof work or plumbing – with no contact with kids – not be checked.
“But for a third-party contractor who has direct involvement with our kids not to have a background check is totally unacceptable,” he said.
The district has a policy to not allow staff to have carry guns to protect students, but does not have a policy to have a background check on a contract hire, Bateson said.
“Shame on us, that needs to be rectified soon. This should never have happened and as a parent I’m disgusted by it,” he said.
This individual should have never been part of working with students in Bowling Green, he said.
“We are not ignoring it, it requires more discussion,” said board President Jill Carr after the meeting.