Portland Public Schools Puts Director With Prostitution Conviction on Leave

The district will also launch an investigation.

(Julia Huchinson)

Portland Public Schools placed its director of school and family partnerships on paid leave Wednesday, immediately after WW published a story that revealed the director, Richard Gilliam, had a 1998 conviction for soliciting a prostitute.

In Oregon, a would-be teacher can't get a license if he or she has a conviction for soliciting a prostitute, no matter how old the conviction. It also doesn't matter if it's a misdemeanor, as was the case for Gilliam.

Portland Public Schools says it holds staff and administrators to the same standards as teachers, but officials couldn't explain to WW before it published its story Wednesday why it hired Gilliam in 2013. It conducted a background check on Gilliam, but keeps those records for only three years; the state says public agencies can get rid of them after 90 days.

Courtney Westling, a spokeswoman for PPS, says the district launched an investigation into the Gilliam matter Wednesday, the same day he was put on leave.

Gilliam tells WW he is innocent of the prostitution charge and that he pleaded no contest on the advice of a criminal attorney. He wrote in a statement: "I am confident any unbiased investigation will clear me of any wrongdoing. I appreciate the outpouring of support by the community."

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