Schools weigh criminal record

The Collins Elementary School secretary accused of having sexual relations with a 15-year-old pupil has a criminal record, which she disclosed on her job application.

The Richmond County School System does not exclude job applicants with criminal violations, however.

Potential hires with records are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, depending on the severity of the crime and how long ago it was committed, system spokesman Louis Svehla said.

Though the school system would never hire anyone convicted of an offense such as rape, child pornography or violent crimes, those with less serious charges can be placed in positions that make sense given their history.

"You're not going to have someone with a DUI driving a bus, but you may have someone who got a DUI 10 years ago working in the lunchroom," Svehla said.

Tiffiny Robinson, who surrendered to authorities Wednesday and was charged with sexual assault and enticing a child for indecent purposes, worked as the Collins Elementary secretary despite her 2004 misdemeanor shoplifting conviction.

"For her position, it wasn't an issue," Svehla said. "For potentially somebody who may have handled money, it may have turned out different."

The school system has four ways to categorize those with criminal records:

- People with extremely violent charges or serious felonies cannot be hired.

- Those with offenses such as arson, welfare fraud or felony drug use cannot be hired within 10 years of the crime.

- The school system will not hire a person with convictions such as misdemeanor drug charges or battery if the crime occurred less than five years ago.

- People with minor charges such as disorderly conduct or petty theft are eligible for hire, but their crimes are reviewed by the school system.

Robinson, 28, now faces felony charges of having sexual relations with the eighth-grade boy from the school.

According to an arrest warrant, Robinson had sex with the boy at a home on Rasha Drive while she had "supervisory authority over the victim" on Jan. 1. At 8 p.m. Saturday, Robinson picked up the boy from his home and drove him to the Augusta Marriott Hotel & Suites on 10th Street, where she booked a room and again had sex with him, according to the warrant.

School district officials launched an investigation on Feb. 11 after a parent told Principal Thomas Norris that her children had heard rumors of the relationship during a Valentine's Day dance at the school Feb. 10.

The Department of School Safety and Security and the district's Office of Professional Standards then took over the investigation.

At least four student and faculty witnesses were interviewed before Robinson surrendered to authorities Wednesday. School safety Lt. Richard Roundtree has said he does not believe there were other victims.

She remained at the Richmond County jail awaiting a bond hearing Thursday evening.

Robinson, who also is an assistant coach for the girls basketball and softball teams, was placed on administrative leave after the district began its investigation.

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