Student uncovers Katz’s legal woes through search

A Missouri Southern student researching an instructor he would be taking in the spring may have been the first to notify some University officials of the instructor’s criminal past.

Kevin Bujarski, a financing and marketing double major who is enrolled in a spring Managerial Accounting course that was slated to be taught by Norman Katz, did an Internet search to find more information about the instructor.

What he discovered? His instructor had pleaded guilty to embezzling $129,000 from an Ohio museum earlier this year and had to ask a judge for permission to travel to Missouri for a teaching job.

Bujarski, who transferred from Ozark Christian College last spring, told The Chart he did a Google search for Katz and discovered an article from Nov. 1 in The Canton Repository that mentioned Katz receiving permission to teach in Missouri.

Bujarski said he forwarded the article to his advisor and asked if he was aware of Katz’s criminal background. The advisor reportedly said he wasn’t and forwarded the message on to the department head.

Two weeks ago, Bujarski was told by an accounting instructor that “my news was news,” he said, and another instructor told him he had “created quite the chaos.”

“I started getting the impression they didn’t know,” he told The Chart.

“From what I’ve heard they are appalled that they didn’t find this out on their own and the kind of reaction I’m getting, I assume that most of the professors assumed he wasn’t going to be sticking around, that there was a mistake made, obviously.”

Bujarski said he was surprised at the apparent lack of a background check.

“I don’t know what the school’s policy is on that, but one of my teachers said if they did a background check on her when she was hired she wasn’t aware of it,” he said. “If the school’s not doing background checks, that’s a problem I think.”

Debbie Dutch Kelley, Southern’s human resources director, said criminal background checks during the hiring process are done by request, when asked Friday. She said department heads sometimes request a background check on an applicant.

Southern officials have largely declined to comment on the matter. Dr. Beverly Block, who serves as interim dean of the school of business, said she couldn’t provide any information and that she didn’t know if or when she would be able to comment, and Dr. AJ Anglin, vice president for academic affairs, said he had been made aware of a potential problem with a faculty member, but declined to get into specifics. Accounting department head Dr. David Smith could not be reached by phone.

Rod Anderson, chairman of the Board of Governors, said he wouldn’t make any comments on personnel matters after a monthly Board meeting Nov. 19. The Governors met in closed session for more than an hour following the open portion of their meeting to discuss hiring, firing and disciplining personnel, but Anderson declined to say whether their closed discussion was limited to one employee.

“I can’t get into that,” he said.

Asked when he became aware of Katz’s embezzlement history, Anderson also declined to say.

“I can’t get into that either,” he said. “That’s a personnel matter. I won’t discuss it.”

Katz has not responded to a Chart request for comment sent by e-mail to his University-issued e-mail address.

Bujarski said his intention was not to embarrass anyone, and that he hoped Southern would learn from the situation.