Former East Valley substitute teacher Matthew C. Deryan, 46, pleaded not guilty to multiple charges last week stemming from an incident at Trent School on Jan. 16. His trial has been set for April 21.
According to court documents, students in a sixth-grade classroom said Deryan physically assaulted four students, locked the door and prevented them from leaving the classroom. They said he called them names, swore at them and smelled of alcohol.
In those same court documents, Principal Frank Brou said he talked to Deryan who denied he had assaulted the students. Brou said Deryan appeared coherent but a little agitated. Deryan was fired and banned from the school grounds.
He was charged with four counts of fourth-degree assault and two counts of unlawful imprisonment.
Deryan pleaded guilty in 2011 to making a false or misleading statement to a public official, a misdemeanor, after he was caught altering court documents in his divorce case. During his divorce, which was finalized in 2009, his wife took out a restraining order on him. He was also arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in Kootenai County in December.
The case has East Valley officials re-examining their background checks for employees. Deryan passed a background check in June 2010 conducted through the Washington State Patrol and the FBI.
“It’s making us question everything in our process,” said Tom Gresch, assistant superintendent of general services in the East Valley School District.
Gresch said they have checked with other school districts in the area to see what their processes are.
“The reassuring piece,” Gresch said, “is that school districts in our region are on the same page.”
He said there have been discussions around completing FBI background checks for new and substitute teachers every year. The cost, however, is prohibitive. Each background check is $68. If East Valley asked substitutes to pay for this themselves, he said they might not look to East Valley for employment.
Gresch said the administration will continue discussing ideas for the background check in the coming months.
“This isn’t an East Valley thing, this is an everybody thing,” Gresch said.
Another addition to the hiring process could be cyber searches, like many human resource departments perform.
“There aren’t that many that aren’t going to cyber search,” Gresch said.
He credited the counselors and staff at Trent in the days after the incident for helping students through the difficult time.