KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) — Upset parents demanded answers from the Kentwood Public Schools Board of Education Monday night, wondering how a man with a criminal record was hired to work for the district.
That man, Quinn James, was charged last year with raping a student who was later killed.
There were not many parents at Monday’s board meeting, but those who were there were angry the district had hired James as a groundskeeper and maintenance worker in 2011. At the time, he had a record that included a 1991 conviction for armed robbery and two counts of being a prisoner in possession of a weapon from 2003.
“To have a person with that background around kids, you’re making your kids vulnerable,” parent Keith Edwards told 24 Hour News 8. “And I’m all for second chances, to be honest. I mean, I’ve worked in corrections for a long time and I understand people need to have second chances, but you still got to be vigilant and protect the kids.”
The superintendent previously told 24 Hour News 8 that James was hired because he “fit the qualifications for working as a groundskeeper” and that the job didn’t require him to have any contact with students.
Parents called for a list of all the employees in the district who have criminal records.
“Are there currently employees within the Kentwood district that have criminal records that have contact with students?” parent Mary Bruce asked the board. “…Required to have contact with students and having contact are two very different things.”
James was charged with raping East Kentwood High School student Mujey Dumbuya, who was 15 at the time, last summer. The district fired James in November after learning of the sexual assault allegations involving Dumbuya. The district says the two did not meet at the school.
“Every life is precious and (Dumbuya’s) light was especially bright. And when one so young is taken from us, it is devastating to all within our community. And our thoughts and prayers continue to be with her family,” school board President Mimi Madden said Monday night.
In a statement released Monday night, the board expressed sympathy to Dumbuya’s family and also said the district is “committed to providing a safe and positive learning environment for students, teachers and staff members.”
>>PDF: Statement from the board
The board added that the district is working with police and conducting an internal investigation.
James, who’s back in jail on an unrelated criminal sexual conduct charge from 2014, has not been charged in connection to Dumbuya’s death, nor are investigators currently calling him a suspect in her murder. In a jailhouse interview with 24 Hour News 8 Saturday, he said he had nothing to Dumbuya’s death and denied even knowing her — though police said he previously admitted to having “consensual” sex with her.