Memphis KIPP teacher fired after disturbing past revealed from Mississippi

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- KIPP Memphis Preparatory Middle School parents like Latoya Wells were just finding out Tuesday why their kids' school was making headlines.

“I just heard the teacher got fired because of work history, but I don’t know what else,” Wells said.

Wells said she got an email from the school Monday night. It said a teaching assistant no longer worked at the school.

The letter was talking about Dan Burcham, a former principal in Alcorn County, Mississippi.

Documents released by the Mississippi Department of Education showed he had a hearing in 2013 and lost his license for using a cellphone to photograph, video and view female employees and students in an inappropriate manner.

Officials also said he engaged in unethical conduct in a relationship with a student.

"He shouldn’t be here,” Wells said.

Parents wanted to know how this person got hired in south Memphis.

“I'm angry a little bit because I have four kids here so it’s like, 'How come y'all couldn’t figure this out before you hired him?'” Sederia Mays said.

KIPP officials said he “passed all initial background checks required by the state of Tennessee.” But that could be because he was never criminally charged in Mississippi; the Alcorn County clerk told WREG he had no criminal record in that county, though he is involved in a civil lawsuit from two teachers at his former school.

“Angry. That’s all I can say is angry because it doesn’t make any sense at all,” Mays said.

In addition, the Tennessee Department of Education said teaching assistants aren’t required to have teaching licenses.

State officials said they would review their procedures.

"We are concerned to hear that a Tennessee school hired someone who it appears had their teaching license suspended as a result of serious allegations. Our students' and teachers' safety must be paramount in any hiring decision. In light of this situation, we are reviewing our protocols and training for school districts and charter schools to ensure they have the right processes and policies in place that keep students' and teachers' safety at the forefront. Moving forward, the ASD will be talking with its charter schools about hiring practices and requirements, as well," Tennessee Department of Education spokesperson Sara Gast said.

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