Crime

North KC teacher accused of sex crimes moved from school to school with no red flags

James R. Green Jr., 52, has been charged with six counts of statutory sodomy. The North Kansas City middle school teacher has worked at several area schools.
James R. Green Jr., 52, has been charged with six counts of statutory sodomy. The North Kansas City middle school teacher has worked at several area schools.

A teacher now facing charges for sex crimes dating back to 2005 landed his most recent job at a North Kansas City middle school after resigning from Blue Springs South High School for reasons that are unclear.

James R. Green Jr., 52, has been known to most as Russell Green as his career progressed from middle school classrooms to teaching and coaching swimming at area high schools, and through his roles as a Boy Scout leader and a ticket taker at Kauffman Stadium.

Now Green is charged in Jackson County with six counts of statutory sodomy, accused of having sex with a then-16-year-old boy a dozen years ago while working at Blue Springs South. After his arrest April 14, he told police he also in recent months had a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old Blue Springs boy and has secretly filmed boys in locker rooms at various schools where he has worked.

Blue Springs School District officials have not described the reasons for Green’s departure in 2009. In Green’s years at Blue Springs South and previous schools, no allegations publicly surfaced against him.

The FBI has announced a hotline for anyone to call with information about other possible victims of Green. The agency’s Child Exploitation Task Force has joined Blue Springs police in investigating Green.

In a career that has spanned more than 25 years, Green has taught at four area schools in two districts, according to state records.

Green’s job at Northgate Middle School in North Kansas City appears to have been a step down in his career. After four years as a Blue Springs South High School teacher and swimming coach, Green resigned May 9, 2009.

State records show Green did not have a teaching job in Missouri for more than a year. He returned to the North Kansas City School District, where in September 2010 Northgate hired him as a paraprofessional — a kind of teaching assistant — for $12.57 per hour.

In general, a resignation and a move to a position of less status in another district is a sign of some form of trouble, said Patrick Layden, a field manager in the St. Louis Regional Office of the Missouri National Education Association.

“It’s an unusual trajectory,” Layden said. “It’s definitely not a normal path.”

The following school year, Green began again as a teacher. He continued to reside at his home in Blue Springs, where he has lived since 2005.

School district officials in North Kansas City have put Green on administrative leave from his job as a technology teacher at Northgate, where he has worked for nearly seven years.

Attempts to reach Green for comment on this story were not successful.

Parents of Northgate students have been following the news closely, said Raquel Bollinger, whose son is in sixth grade there.

“They’re freaked out, really, and worried about their kids,” Bollinger said. “I think it’s really kind of crazy. There should be some warning sign. I guess it could happen anywhere, but it’s scary to think there have been two teachers at the same school.”

Parents have noted that Northgate saw another of its teachers plead guilty last year to sexually assaulting a female student. The school district is facing a federal lawsuit filed by the girl’s parent.

One of the people making allegations against Green was a former student. Another was a Smithville High School student in 2005 when he met Green online.

Since Green’s arrest, another former student who knew Green as his swimming coach at Blue Spring South has told local media that he had found Green to be “creepy” and remembered Green making inappropriate sexual comments about boys on the team.

Before his most recent two teaching jobs, Green worked at Antioch Middle School from 1991 to 1992 and Oak Park High School from 1993 to 2005, according to state records.

Some in the Kansas City area would know Green as a former troop leader for the Boy Scouts Heart of America Council.

On Tuesday, the council’s scout executive and CEO, Kenn Miller, said Green has not been involved with the council for years but was still prohibited from any future participation in the Scouting program, including as an adult volunteer.

Many others have seen Green at the front gates of Kauffman Stadium, where he has worked seasonally as a ticket taker for the Kansas City Royals since 2004, according to Toby Cook, a spokesman for the Royals. Police arrested Green at the stadium April 14 when he showed up for work.

No record

Before April 14, Green had no criminal record. State education officials said they had no record of complaints against him. As a result, Northgate and other schools would have had little or no tangible reason to reject Green as a teacher.

As a paraprofessional, the position he first took at Northgate, the bar would have been lower, said Layden, the Missouri NEA field manager.

The position is normally an entry-level job in education, where people try working in a classroom environment before going on to gain teaching degrees. They are normally not left alone with students.

“Districts are desperate everywhere to hire paras,” Layden said. “The standard for hiring a para is definitely far less than a teacher.”

As a rule, every time a teacher or school administrator changes jobs, even if they stay in the same district or school, a new background check should be done, Layden said.

But that background check won’t alert school officials to past complaints that remained unsubstantiated.

“Only substantiated claims against a teacher would be documented,” Layden said.

When a complaint is made against a teacher by a student or parent, the first obligation of the school is to report the matter to the state child protective services agency. In Missouri, that’s the Department of Social Services Children’s Division.

A school and state department investigation are done simultaneously. But if the claim is unsubstantiated, the case goes away — no file, no documents, no red flag, Layden said.

If the findings are substantiated, and depending on how serious the incident, “the hope is the school district will go for a revocation of that person’s teaching certificate,” Layden said.

A record of that request and review would be kept on file with the state and would pop up in a background check as would any criminal charges of child sexual abuse.

Without such a report, school leaders have to rely on their hiring experience and look for signs of trouble in a candidate’s resume, such as a pattern of shifting from district to district.

“You could just ask them during the interview to explain the bouncing around, and that might shed some light,” Layden said. “But I know of instances in the past where both the candidate and the district were not forthcoming.”

Green was released from custody on a $100,000 bond. He is scheduled to appear in court again May 1.

Ian Cummings: 816-234-4633, @Ian__Cummings

Mará Rose Williams: 816-234-4419, @marawilliamskc

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