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‘Second chance’ doesn’t work out for Grave

Published: Friday, July 5, 2013 11:32 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, July 5, 2013 11:53 a.m. CDT

Two years ago, Nicole Stafford told the Prairie City-Monroe School District that they should perform background checks on all their employees and adhere to their policies and standards. At the last school board meeting Stafford, who has attended nearly every school board meeting in the last two years, addressed the school board again.

“This board has an obligation to protect the students, the staff and the PCM community from safety issues and financial issues,” Stafford said.

The Prairie City-Monroe School District terminated its employment of Ean Allan Grave, 37, who is facing charges for domestic abuse.

PCM Superintendent Jane Babcock released a statement on June 26 which said the district terminated Grave’s employment as technology specialist “based on inappropriate and illegal conduct that came to light through an investigation initiated by Superintendent Jane Babcock and Monroe Police Chief Jeramy Pettyjohn.”

The charges for domestic abuse were filed on June 13, 12 days before Babcock issued the statement. Six months before being hired at PCM Grave was charged with first degree theft in Dallas County for stealing more than $53,000 in computer equipment. In April of 2011 — six months into his employment at PCM — Grave pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of second degree theft and was put on three years probation in lieu of a five year prison sentence.

A background check was completed for Grave on Oct. 27, 2010, 12 days after his first day of work at PCM, which yielded his criminal history. Babcock, who makes all recommendations to the school board for new hires, said that she was aware of Grave’s criminal history.

“The school district conducts a reasonably thorough background check before hiring any employee,” Babcock said. “Although the school district was aware of Mr. Grave’s history at the time of his hiring, he was given a second chance. Mr. Grave possessed the qualifications and skills that were of need to the district at the time. The school district regrets that the second chance given to Mr. Grave did not work out.”

Grave was paid $594 in December of 2010 for travel expenses incurred on Oct. 14 to Nov. 23 for travel from Johnston to Prairie City. During that period, he made 30 round trips to Prairie City from Johnston. The school district did not release the nature of these expenditures. The Johnston city directory listed Grave to be living at 237 Cherokee Dr., Polk City in 2009 and that he had lived there for the three previous years.

Grave’s address was redacted from the copy of his background check. The IRS considers the commute from home to work a personal expense, but Grave’s main place of employment was at the PCM High School in Monroe.

“I believe our district needs to be more transparent and communicate better,” Stafford said.

Staff writer Dave Hon may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 425, or at dhon@newtondailynews.com.

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