Man coaches high school football despite assault charge, suspension Arundel officials find error after volunteer pushes youth on bike

October 22, 1998|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Andrea F. Siegel contributed to this article.

An intricate system of checking backgrounds of prospective employees, which was put into place after several Anne Arundel County teachers were accused of having sex with students, broke down when a man was mistakenly allowed to coach football at North County High School.

Maurice Bowie Sr., 38, was charged in 1996 with assault and had been suspended from county youth sports.

School officials, who were alerted to the lapse when Bowie became involved in a pushing match during a game at Glen Burnie High School last week, are blaming an error by high school employees.

"The system we have for background checks is the best in the state," said Mark Black, head of county school employee investigations. "But it doesn't work if humans don't follow the process."

School spokeswoman Jane Doyle blamed a communication mix-up at the Linthicum school. Bowie filled out an application for the volunteer position at school headquarters on Riva Road in Annapolis, she said, but was not offered a specific job.

Meanwhile, he began assisting the North County junior varsity football coach and had coached seven games. He had not, as the hiring procedures require, gone back to Riva Road and filled out the final paperwork that would have triggered a criminal background check by Black's office.

"I have been told that one individual thought it had been taken care of by another individual when, in fact, it had not," Doyle said.

Bowie, a Linthicum resident, has been banned from coaching in county schools, Black said. He said his office is reviewing the incident to determine what can be done to prevent similar lapses. North County High School administrators did not return calls yesterday.

Black said that if his office had done a background check on Bowie, it would have found the assault charges, though the suspension would not have shown up on a criminal background check.

All school employees, including volunteer coaches, must undergo criminal background checks that include fingerprinting and verification of employment and address, Black said. His office contracts a private firm to do the work, and results are available in two days.

The school system expanded and improved its investigations office on the advice of attorney-investigator Alan I. Baron and amid national publicity over teacher-student sex allegations. State education authorities demanded the investigation after Northeast High School teacher Ronald Price was arrested, admitted on national television that he had had sex with at least a half-dozen students and said he knew of other teachers who had done similar things.

In December 1993, Baron said the schools had mishandled allegations of child abuse by teachers, called its poorly trained investigators "amateur sleuths" and said its recordkeeping was abysmal.

County police did not charge Bowie in the Oct. 15 incident that began when a youth on a bike refused to move back from the sidelines during a game. Bowie pushed the bike and the youth fell off. Another student kicked the youth, and that youth was charged with misdemeanor assault.

Bowie refused to comment yesterday on the incident or on the way he was hired.

According to District Court records, Bowie was charged with second-degree assault after a Nov. 2, 1996, incident at Sunset Park in Pasadena in which Gary Michael Alvey Sr. said Bowie punched and kicked him when he disagreed with a call during a youth football game.

Bowie filed similar second-degree assault charges against Alvey. In July 1997, both men dropped the charges after attending court-run mediation sessions, records show.

As a result of the incident, the Anne Arundel Youth Football Association suspended Bowie as a coach until next year, according to Vince DePasquale, commissioner of the association.

Pub Date: 10/22/98

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