Background Check Questioned After Sex Abuse Conviction Of Smyrna - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Background Check Questioned After Sex Abuse Conviction Of Smyrna Teacher

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Donovan Garvin Donovan Garvin

SMYRNA, Del. - A former Smyrna High teacher, already convicted of sexually abusing a student, could also end up paying for the crime.

But he's not the only one facing a civil suit.

Donovan Garvin, 38, is a former math teacher at Smyrna High School. He's spending at least the next decade behind bars for sexually abusing a then 15-year-old student in his classroom.

The victim's lawyer Raeann Warner says the girl still suffers from problems that they believe "are related to the abuse."

The victim's family is taking matters into it's own hands, suing her abuser and the Smyrna School District. The complaint argues that Garvin was "fired from other school districts" because of other allegations of inappropriate sexual contact.

It alleges that the district and superintendent Deborah Wicks failed to perform a "proper background check" before hiring Garvin.

"Schools should be very diligent about protecting children from abusers," said Warner.

The law in Delaware states that a public school may hire a teacher before a background check is ever finished. According to Woodbridge School District superintendent Heath Chasanov, the process can take nearly a month for a background check to be done.

Chasanov says he wants a faster turnaround.

"There are times that you do put people out there prior to the criminal background check coming back, but there's still reference checks in play," said Chasanov.

47 ABC asked the school district if it checked references or ran a background check on Garvin. No direct answer was given, but superintendent Deborah Wicks sent over the following statement:

"The Smyrna School District does not condone the conduct alleged of the individual perpetrator in this case. However, the district exercises reasonable care with regards to safeguarding the student at issue and looks forward to vindicating itself in the legal proceedings."

Warner said this lawsuit could take up to two years before it's ever heard in court.

Two years ago, lawmakers had considered, legislation which would change the hiring process. It stated that public schools can't hire until a criminal background check is completed. A measure was never approved.

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