Missouri Southern State University (MSSU) has hired a convicted felon, who embezzled at least $129,000 from a former employer, to teach accounting.
MSSU, which is set in the Missouri Ozarks, recently hired Norman L. Katz, 60, who worked as a part-time accountant for the William McKinley Presidential Library and Museum in Canton, Ohio, for nearly five years. In February, he pleaded guilty to felony aggravated theft and agreed to make $129,000 in restitution, according to The Joplin Globe.
The Joplin Globe also reported that a criminal background check is not required as part of the hiring process at the University.
"It is a personnel issue, and we are dealing with that," University President Dr. Bruce Speck told the newspaper, adding that the university would likely be revisiting its hiring process.
KOAM-TV 7 said Speck called the situation "a problem and we're working to see how we can rectify it." When asked to explain what he meant by a problem, Speck said, "I think it's a problem, yes, when you have that type of situation, and so we're working through the process and trying to figure out how we can get that taken care of."
Speck was not aware of a university policy banning convicted felons from teaching, according to KOAM-TV 7. Speck said Katz is under contract with MSSU and he did not know the ramifications if the contract was voided.
The Chart, the university's student newspaper, reported last week that Katz had been hired to teach four accounting courses and is currently teaching a distance learning accounting course. He was hired at the William McKinley Presidential Library and Museum in 2002, and resigned in 2007 after he was confronted about missing money. The Chart reported that Katz has paid nearly $96,000 in restitution.
MSSU's Board of Governors approved hiring Katz as an accounting instructor on October 15. Just five days later, Katz filed a motion seeking permission to travel to Missouri for a teaching position, which the judge granted on October 22, according to The Chart.