Dad barred from watching son's school performance because his ID matched that of a sex offender
Though Aurora Hills Middle School said it was all a mistake, Larry Mitchell is still waiting for is apology
A Colorado man is demanding apology from his son's school after he was mistaken for a registered sex offender and prevented from attending his child's school performance.
According to reports, Larry Mitchell went to the Aurora Hills Middle School with his wife and 11-year-old son to watch the latter's performance in a Writers' Cafe on October 26. The issue arose when Mitchell gave the school security his ID at the check-in and his name was matched with that of a sex offender.
The Aurora Public School uses the Raptor Visitor Management System, a program that checks all visitors against the National Sex Offender Registry. Mitchell told the security that he was not a sex offender but the school said that he could only attend the event with an escort, the Daily Mail reported.
He told Yahoo!: "Basically, what you have in that moment is me arguing that I'm not a sex offender in front of strangers and people who spend the day with my son and the people in the office publicly asserting that I am a match. I basically felt like the only one in the room who didn't think I was a sex offender. The other parents were sharing looks with each other that seemed to imply that I was a real pain and that it's a shame they had to deal with me."
The furious father also said that the school would not show him the photo or any information of the man who allegedly "matched" his license. He also found out later that the middle and last name of him and the sex offender were different. Mitchell also said that part of his name and his date of birth may have matched the offender's but the district "would not confirm any of that". The father was even more shocked because he is a teaching artist and has been in at least 10 public schools already this year.
He wrote in a lengthy Facebook post: "I have worked in the schools of the Denver metro for four years. I check in with my ID every time. This has never happened before." He also said that he tried explaining to the security "multiple times" that the match to the sex offender was a mistake and that he often "visits schools all over the state".
He told Yahoo!: "I've had at least six background checks since moving to Aurora for various employers. I was even background-checked for a program in Aurora by the district a couple of years ago. I'm in schools at least once every two weeks. This has never happened to me. Nothing even close. Never even had to resubmit for any of my background checks."
Mitchell denied the offer of going for his son's event with an escort and chose to wait in the car for his wife, who had been allowed in the event. The school claimed since then that Mitchell left the premises before the staff could "verify the error on their own" and clear his name. He denied that this happened.
Mitchell said: "Nobody was trying to clear me. It was enter with a security guard or nothing. No empathy or attempt to clear the matter. Nobody was looking into anything." The father then said that the district told him that it was a problem that only the local police department could solve, which then told him that they did not have anything to do with the screening process at the school.
He said: "They did run my license and I'm clear. I also contacted the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. They also cleared me." The father said that he has not heard from the school or the district since the harrowing incident.
Corey Christiansen, a spokesperson for the Aurora Public Schools, told KDVR: "Out of an abundance of caution we followed our protocol." The school also said that it has since come to the conclusion that Mitchell was not on the National Sex Offender Registry and that he won't be required to have an escort when he goes to the school with his son.
Mitchell however wants an apology from the school.
He had initially planned to volunteer at the school and set up a playwriting program but is currently having second thoughts about it. He said: "It'd be like me saying, 'It's totally okay that you never apologized to me, that you never contacted me, and that you never looked into forming a new policy. Here's some free labor'. I still don't know how I feel about attending future events at the school."