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Hernando teacher arrested, fired after Tennessee warrant discovered

BROOKSVILLE — Diana Kristine Young looked good on paper.

The 40-year-old Homosassa resident's resume boasted some 15 years of experience working with students with special needs. In August, the Hernando school district hired her as an exceptional education teacher at Central High School.

Young had a secret, however, that caught up to her Thursday, landing her in jail and costing her the new job.

School officials discovered that Young was wanted on an outstanding warrant in Tennessee. According to reports, she failed to appear in court after being charged with the sale and distribution of buprenorphine, a narcotic used to treat opiate addiction.

A school resource officer, after discovering the warrant, arrested Young on campus about an hour after school started. She was immediately fired for failing to disclose the Tennessee arrest, superintendent Bryan Blavatt said. She remained in the Hernando County Detention Center on Friday, held without bond as she awaited extradition to Tennessee.

Two months ago, a day before a background check came back clean and Young was cleared to work in Hernando County, Young was arrested in Citrus County on a misdemeanor charge of giving a false report to a deputy.

It's unclear why Young's original Tennessee arrest and the outstanding warrant did not show up in the district's background check, said Heather Martin, executive director of business services.

For the misdemeanor arrest in Citrus, Young was given a citation and notice to appear but not booked into jail, records show. The arrest does not appear in Florida Department of Law Enforcement records, which is likely why the arrest did not show up on the district's background check. Young did not disclose the arrest to district officials as required by law.

The incident highlights concerns that school officials already had about flaws in the background check process.

School districts are required to run what is called a Level 2 background screening that checks Florida and FBI databases. Young came back clean, Martin said.

If a would-be hire has an arrest or outstanding warrant in another state and that state does not submit that information to the FBI, however, it won't show up during the database check, Martin said.

"I wouldn't want to send out alarms to parents that we don't do a background check or that your teacher could be a criminal," Martin said, "but there has always been a concern on our part that there are some loopholes to that Level 2 background check."

School officials found out about Young's legal troubles in Tennessee somewhat by chance.

The district accepted Young's Tennessee driver's license upon her hire, but employees are required to produce a Florida driver's license by the end of their 90-day probationary period. When Young did not, human resources staffers alerted Central administrators, who asked the school's resource officer to run Young's name in the Sheriff's Office database to see if she had a Florida license. That's when the Tennessee warrant showed up, Martin said.

Efforts by the Times to obtain additional information about Young's case in Tennessee were unsuccessful. Officials in Sevier County, Tenn., where the drug charge originated, refused to comment on the warrant or when it was issued, saying it was part of a sealed grand jury indictment.

The earliest job listed on Young's application in Hernando was a special education position with Sumter County schools she held from 1992 to 1994. She worked as a teacher in Citrus County for two years, then returned to Sumter, where she worked as an exceptional education teacher until 2004.

That year, she decided to get her real estate license and got a job as a sales agent for Keller Williams Realty in Inverness. It didn't go well, according to what Young wrote in her application when asked the reason she left the job in 2006: "Economy not good … almost went broke!"

From 2006 until last November, Young worked as an ESE teacher at Camp E-Nini-Hassee, a Florida City facility for troubled girls run by Eckerd Youth Alternatives. Her supervisor there rated her competency as "very good" and recommended her for employment when Hernando officials called for a reference check. Two other references, a case manager and a teacher at Eckerd, also praised Young's performance, noting that she had a good rapport with students and co-workers.

Young moved to Tennessee in November, but listed no employment there. She wrote on her application that she recently moved back to the area and was looking for a place to live in Hernando County.

At Central, Young worked with students who have behavior or cognitive disorders that require them to work toward an exceptional education diploma, principal Joe Clifford said.

Clifford declined to comment on Young's performance at the school.

"I'm disappointed that this instructor was not as forthright with me and the district as she should have been," he said. "And I'm disappointed that this may affect our students, and we will work diligently to provide support and appropriate guidance for the students she was assigned to."

News researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this report. John Woodrow Cox can be jcox@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1432. Tony Marrero can be reached at tmarrero@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1431.

Hernando teacher arrested, fired after Tennessee warrant discovered 10/21/11 [Last modified: Friday, October 21, 2011 9:15pm]

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