Berthoud Weekly Surveyor | Covering all the angles in the Garden Spot

Thompson School District provides details on safe hiring practices

By: Dan Karpiel | The Surveyor | December 17, 2020 | Education

As reported by the Surveyor last week, former Berthoud High School (BHS) teacher and coach Zachery Kent Denison was arrested on charges of rape in Utah on Dec. 1. According to a probable cause affidavit filed in the case, a female student told authorities that the sexual relationship with Denison began in February 2019 when she was 14 years old, while he was teaching at Mt. Nebo Junior High in Payso, Utah.

Prior to the announcement of the arrest, Denison resigned his position as a teacher at BHS as well as his roles as an assistant football coach and head boys basketball coach. In October, Denison was named head boys basketball coach, taking over for Joel Davidson who resigned to spend more time with his family but Denison himself then resigned prior to the accusations coming to light.

Following news of the arrest, several Berthoud residents shared on social media that they found Denison’s behavior towards female students to be “creepy” “weird” and saying he was “way too friendly” and “gave off weird vibes.” As of now, there have been no reports that Denison engaged in any illegal conduct with any Berthoud students.

In light of the accusations, the Surveyor received inquires regarding hiring policies and procedures used in the Thompson School District (TSD) and reached out to district leadership to provide details.

Dr. Bill Siebers, Chief Human Resources Officer for the TSD, promptly responded to the Surveyor’s request and expressed gratitude for the opportunity to provide details to the public. Applicants to submit a good deal of information pertaining to prior work experience, education, licenses and certifications and personal information which is reviewed by TSD HR before deciding to grant an interview.

According to Siebers, “when a licensed employee applies for a position and receives an interview from the school or a department, the candidate is required to complete an application submitting all past work experiences, personal data, education, licensure/certification, professional references and legal information.”

Upon completing the in-person interview, if the applicant is extended an offer for a position, further investigations are undertaken. As Siebers explained, “When an individual is selected for hire by the school building, the hiring administrator calls the provided references and submits a “Requisition to Hire” form to our Human Resources department. Human Resources then sends the new hire an employee packet to complete. The applicant must complete a background check through Sterling Talent Solutions and be cleared to begin employment through Human Resources.”

Siebers continued, “Licensed staff must hold a teacher license in the state of Colorado. During the application process for a teaching license, an applicant must submit fingerprints to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and have a valid form of government-issued identification. An applicant must also submit an official degree-conferred transcript from a regionally accredited college or university that demonstrates that a bachelor’s or higher degree was achieved.”

Stu Boyd, Berthoud’s representative on the TSD Board of Education, referred the Surveyor to Siebers and Superintendent Dr. Marc Schaffer for inquiries pertaining to this story.



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