Felon hired at Hickman Mills then charged raises questions about district’s background checks

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Hickman Mills School District mentor who's been charged with two counts of enticement of a child has raised questions about the vetting process of people who work in the district.

The Hickman Mills School District hasn't been totally transparent regarding what it knew about Gary Curry before he was hired.

But FOX4 Problem Solvers has uncovered the man who worked with children is a convicted felon -- and parents in the district had no idea.

"This is the safest and most comfortable we have felt in 8 months," said Shanara Wilson, whose daughter is the alleged victim in the crimes for which Curry is now in jail.

Wilson said she and her 9-year-old daughter have been looking over their shoulders ever since October, when 61-year-old Curry, who was a mentor at Warford Elementary School, allegedly sent inappropriate sexual texts to the fourth grader.

On Wednesday, Curry asked a Jackson County judge to reduce his $100,000 bond to $20,000.

"I actually told the judge me and my daughter do not feel safe with him getting a bond reduction," Wilson said.

Besides Wilson’s testimony, the Jackson County assistant prosecutor also objected, noting Curry's criminal background saying, "He never should have been allowed to be around children."

But that's exactly what the Hickman Mills School District hired him to do -- mentor children.

Gary Curry

From 2015 to 2017, Curry was a mentor at Johnson Elementary School through the All-In Mentoring Program, which is part of the Hickman Mills School District.

In 2018, Curry was assigned to Warford Elementary where he allegedly befriended his 9-year-old victim.

The All-In Mentoring Program Handbook states, “All mentors must undergo a background check."

When pressed for Curry's background check, a spokesperson for the Hickman Mills School District replied:

“Mr. Curry was not an employee of the district. He had a contract with Warford Elementary. That contract was terminated the day the parent alerted the district to the allegations. He was vetted. There was nothing that showed up as part of his background check in regards to child enticement or child endangerment. Due to pending litigation that is all I can state at this time.”

FOX4 Problem Solvers found what the district failed to mention is that felony convictions in 1989 for first-degree burglary and in 1992 for second-degree burglary did pop up on Curry's background check.

Attorney David Mayer represents another student whose family has filed a complaint with the Missouri Department of Human Rights against the Hickman Mills School District for interactions with Curry.

In a statement, Mayer said:

“The Hickman Mills School District is choosing their words carefully and their statement is misleading. Based on the information we have obtained, Mr. Curry applied to be a volunteer through the All-In Mentors program. The application form he signed requires the applicant (Mr. Curry) to return the application to the Hickman Mills school district. In “vetting” Mr. Curry, the Hickman Mills School District ran a Missouri background check on him, which revealed he had prior felony convictions in Missouri. Clearly, these prior felony convictions should have raised a red flag and prevented the Hickman Mills School District from placing Mr. Curry in a position of power and trust over the young children within the District. Additionally, in his application, Mr. Curry indicated he lived in California for numerous years, but it appears the Hickman Mills School District did not obtain a proper criminal background check from California.”

On Curry's All-In Mentoring application, Curry states he used to live in California. A record check in L.A. County shows Curry also has a criminal record there.

When asked if any of Curry's past convictions showed up on the background check, a spokesperson with the Hickman Mills School District replied: "Due to anticipated litigation, we cannot comment further at this time."

In 2017 and 2018, when Curry was a mentor for the Hickman Mills School District, he was contracted through a company called Our Brothers/Sisters Keeper.

Through our investigation, FOX4 Problem Solvers found the organization is owned by Curry, he is the only employee, and the organization does not have a license to operate.

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