Yesterday marked the death, for now, of a Colorado Board of Education rule mandating that school districts tell parents when staffers are busted for sex and drug crimes, among other offenses. That's good news to Troy Lowrie, a strip-club owner who lost a side job coaching high school tennis after an arrest for a prostitution charge that was promptly dropped.
"It's a huge victory," Lowrie says about the end of the rule, which perished, according to Colorado Education News, due to a tie vote in the legislative Committee on Legal Services
"I think the rule was a violation of civil rights," he adds. "There's public information that gets dispensed normally, but information shouldn't be forced to potentially the wrong people."
That's what happened in his case, Lowrie believes. As we reported in the post linked above, Lowrie served as tennis coach at Golden High School in addition to his main gig. But the job ended after an incident on July 13.
On that day, Lowrie says he pulled off West Colfax and parked his car on a side street, Winona, to make a phone call when a woman knocked on the window of his black Hummer H2 and propositioned him. They bantered back and forth for a while before he rolled up his window and tried to leave -- which is when a cop pulled him over. Turns out he'd stumbled on a police sting operation, and officers charged him with "the crime of 'furthering,' which is a motion or gesture that leads to an act of prostitution," an accusation allegedly justified by him waving his arm in a way that was perceived as beckoning the faux-hooker. He denied doing anything of the sort, and pointed out that he never accepted the woman's offer.
The case was dismissed before the first court hearing, but the damage had already been done to his coaching position. Because of the rule about informing parents, the Jefferson County School District sent out an e-mail to everyone signed up to the online "parent portal" -- some 25,000 people, by his estimate, including his daughter, who hadn't previously been told about the arrest. Golden High also gave him the heave-ho as tennis coach, and his efforts at reinstatement have come to naught. "The position hasn't been offered to me," he says. "I'll reapply next year and see what happens."
The publicity Lowrie received due to the arrest doesn't bother him much, he says: "I own adult clubs, so I have thicker skin than most people," he says. But he thinks the edict, which will only return if it's voted into law by the state legislature, is a negative when it comes to "recruiting the best educators to this state -- because if someone was involved in a domestic dispute, the announcement goes to everybody they work with, every student they teach.
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"I've discussed this with teachers," he continues, "and given the opportunity to work for equal pay in an equal environment, they'd rather work somewhere other than Colorado, in a place that doesn't air dirty laundry with the public."
He concedes that "the original intent of the rule was good if you're talking about something like a sexual predator who's a school-bus driver. But there's a place to draw the line, and the state never decided where that line should be. They just threw everybody in it. And that's why the rule was so damaging."
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