PULASKI COUNTY, Ark. – The Pulaski County Special School District announced changes to its school visitor scanning process Friday, one day after KARK revealed a sex offender dressed as an elf and took Christmas photos with children at elementary school.
Deputies arrested Joshua Duvall on Wednesday.
According to a report filed with the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office, Duvall dressed as an elf and went with a man dressed as Santa to a photo event at Lawson Elementary on Dec. 18.
The man dressed as Santa was known to school staff and is a grandparent of a student at the school, the report states.
On Dec. 21, a parent notified the school’s principal that the man dressed as an elf was a known sex offender. The principal reported this information to PCSSD security officers, but “no actions were taken” until Feb. 8 when the principal notified deputies on campus and filed a report with them, according to the sheriff’s office.
The sheriff’s office says a warrant was issued for Duvall. He now faces a charge of being a registered offender on a school campus, according to court records. The sheriff’s office report indicates that Duvall should not have been allowed to be at the school.
The Pulaski County Special School District addressed the issue for the first time on Thursday.
PCSSD Superintendent Dr. Charles McNulty did not make himself available for an interview, but released the following statement through a district spokesperson:
“Protecting children is of utmost importance at Pulaski County Special School District. To that effect, it is PCSSD policy that any individual who wishes to interact with students in a volunteer capacity must fill out a volunteer application. Those volunteer applications are run through a background check. This event in December fell outside of our normal process of vetting personnel that we allow on district property. We will ensure that all processes are followed as we move forward. Jessica Duff, Executive Director of Communications for PCSSD, is drafting a district memo to be shared with administrative staff and PTO presidents advising of them of the policies when it comes to volunteers in any PCSSD school.”
The following quote from McNulty was also a part of the prepared statement:
“Sadly, we live in a time where past practices to ensure our students’ safety cannot be limited to just our school personnel and volunteers. We will work diligently with our partners to provide that same umbrella of protection for all events.”
We spoke to the man dressed as Santa by phone. He told us he was not aware of Duvall’s sex offender restriction. He says he and Duvall have been friends for years and Duvall has helped him set up haunted houses in the area.
In the report filed by the sheriff’s office, the man dressed as Santa says he only sees Duvall “around Halloween and Christmas time.”
On Friday, officials at the Pulaski County Special School District sent a statement, saying in part,
“PCSSD IT representatives are changing the setting for every school that will enable the scanner to check sex offender status on every single swipe, this cannot be turned off locally at the school level… In the past, Lawson Elementary did not scan visitor IDs at after-school events. Moving forward, this will be a required process for all schools in PCSSD.”