MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) — A now fired substitute teacher in South Carolina, who was arrested Thursday for public intoxication at an elementary school, had shoplifting charges that went unchecked by her employer.
Lori Mandarino had been a substitute teacher for Charleston County School District since March. She was arrested on Thursday at James B Edwards Elementary School where she was going to fill in for a vacant teaching position.
“While we thoroughly screen all of our employees aligned with district and state requirements, our background check into Ms. Mandarino failed to reveal the charge on her record,” said Kelly Services, a staffing company used by the district to hire substitute teachers.
The shoplifting charges were from May 2021. Mandarino also was arrested for a DUI in July.
“The reaction is disappointment. It’s being enraged. I’m an educator. I’m also a parent,” said Patrick Kelly, the director of governmental affairs for the Palmetto State Teacher Association. “I can’t think of a specific instance of this happening elsewhere in South Carolina in the past, but I’m sure that it has.”
The school district said Mandarino would not teach there ever again. Kelly Services has terminated her contract.
Kelly thinks that staffing companies like Kelly Services need to review how they hire for education positions.
“You’re always going to run the risk of people making mistakes that are unfortunate, and in this case, severe,” Kelly said. “But there are certainly processes that can be put in place to mitigate the odds of something like this happening. I think it would be appropriate to review procedures for background checks and approval on substitute teachers, especially in the case of this individual.”
Another concern for Kelly is the ongoing teacher shortage in South Carolina, which he thinks is affecting how many substitutes are being used.
“The harder it becomes to fill those positions, the more likely you run into a situation where you don’t have highly qualified applicants for a job,” he said. “We’ve got to take this situation seriously.”
There are 48 classroom teacher vacancies in Charleston County, according to CCSD.
“We are running at about 218 teacher subrequests a day so far this school year,” spokesman Andy Pruitt said. “We have about 3,700 classroom positions.”.