The Academy of Alternatives was a private school that contracted to several school districts in the region to conduct special education classes for students with special needs due to alcoholism, drug abuse and other social and academic problems -- the most vulnerable students in our schools.
Jay Scalise, Director of the Academy, discovered the sexual abuse (which he called “consensual”) during a regular meeting with the student, parents and staff. “I am horrified. It is just devastating,” said Scalise. “We all feel violated. It is a betrayal of the student, the population here, this entire school of people who trusted him.” Scalise seems to be most upset because Alcazar violated a policy that teachers are never to be alone with students.
If anyone violated the trust of the “entire school”, not to mention the community, it was Scalise. Scalise, aware of Alcazar’s past after speaking with his “mentor” at the Going Home program which helps ex-convicts re-enter society, failed to do an official background check.
“The background check is when I talked to the people at the Going Home program,” Scalise said. “They told me what his background was. Would a formal background check have shown anything different? I don't know.”
That’s right. Scalise didn’t know because he didn’t check. One thing that a real background check would have done would have been keeping the Academy in compliance with its contract with the Multnomah County Education District. Another would have been alerting state authorities who could have informed Mr. Scalise that it is not a good idea to give convicted murderers access to the most vulnerable children in our schools. Something that Scalise still doesn’t seem to get.
In August 1994 Daniel Alcazar, then 16, shot and killed Joan Ann Borisch, 42, an oncology nurse at Providence Hospital, while burglarizing her home in southeast Portland. Borisch’s body was discovered by her 18 year old son. She also left behind a 16 year old daughter.
Daniel Alcazar now faces up to ten years in jail for his latest crime, as well as the revocation of his parole. The Academy of Alternatives no longer has a license and will not be allowed to conduct classes until they perform required background checks on all current employees. Jay Scalise, I’m sure, is very sorry.