Dubai-based music teacher, William Ball.
PHOTO BY SUPPLIED
DUBAI – The recent arrest of a Dubai-based teacher on child sex charges in the US has spurred calls for schools to ensure tougher background checks of faculty members.
William Ball, a music teacher at Swiss International Scientific School in Dubai, has been suspended from work after he was arrested in Florida on February 15.
Ball was arrested by US marshals who said he paid $5,000 to travel from Dubai to Florida for sex with a seven-year-old child.
ABC Action News reported that a Florida prosecutor accused Ball of “using the internet and a cell phone to set up and meet a seven-year-old”.
According to the media report, the prosecutor also said officials have proof of “extensive internet conversations regarding the case”.
Ball is charged with soliciting a minor for sex and child pornography. He does not have previous convictions related to the charges.
Meanwhile, Swiss International School in Dubai has written to parents, reassuring them that Ball was recruited through a reputable agency who did stringent background checks.
His arrest, however, has stirred calls from experts that schools carry out thorough background checks of teachers.
“While schools need to fill their teaching positions, they should be looking out for certain red flags in the employment history, such as very short stints in other countries or other schools,” Natasha Ridge, an education consultant and executive director at the Al Qasimi Foundation for policy research, told The National.
Starting on February 4, the UAE implemented a new rule requiring expatriates applying for work visa in the UAE to obtain a certificate of good conduct or police clearance.
The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) said existing school protocols assure that safeguarding of children is of “paramount importance”.
“Evidence of an exemplary record of child protection must be provided prior to each renewal of the teaching license and before a teacher is employed in a new position at a different school,” said Dr Naji Al Mahdi, chief of qualifications and awards at the KHDA.
Teachers applying for jobs in the UAE are required to submit child protection certificates and must take an approved course in child protection in order to get a licence. GAD/Expat Media
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