When should a massage school reject an applicant?
When is the confidentiality of a student’s background more important than his risk to the clinic clients of a school?
What is the school’s liability?
These are all big questions that deserve some very serious consideration by the administrators of this country’s massage schools. Recently, a very public case has become an embarrassing example for the entire massage school industry. This is a subject that must be addressed or we risk ruining the reputation of an entire industry and undoing decades of work to legitimize massage.
A student in WA State had completed massage school and was applying for licensure. This student had previously been convicted of a Class C felony (1) for Child Molestation in the third degree (2) in 2003. This conviction was approximately 8 years prior to the application for licensure.
The Department of Health Denied the licensure based on the applicant’s prior convictions.
Disclaimer – Please read this
The applicant’s court records are not available to me at this time so I do not know the details behind the crimes or the conviction. I am not trying to make this individual an example nor am I trying to make him a villain. That was for the legal system to do and they have done so.
My biggest concern is with the school that accepted him as a student and let him work on the public.
If the school was unaware of the student’s prior convictions:
How is it possible that you would run a public clinic with students and not run a background check? A simple background check would have indicated that the applicant had a sexual assault conviction on his record.
If the school was aware of the student’s prior convictions:
How is it possible that you would accept this student into your program? It is completely unambiguous that the state will not license someone for any of the following reasons:
RCW 18.130.055 Section 1 a “ … Has been convicted or is subject to current prosecution or pending charges of a crime involving moral turpitude or a crime identified in RCW 43.43.830.”
RCW 43.43.830 section 5 “ … first, second, or third degree child molestation; …”
The school should be knowledgeable about laws regarding massage therapy in their respective jurisdictions and should be teaching those laws to their students. Therefore, ignorance of this law that would result in the student never being licensable brings to mind 2 very serious issues:
1 – The school is allowing a convicted felon to perform massage on the general public via their student clinic
2 – The school is taking the student’s tuition money knowing that the student will never be granted a license.
How are either of these legally, morally, or ethically acceptable?
I would like to think that this was an isolated, one time only case, but sadly, it isn’t. I teach ethics and, as a result, I get private emails from therapists and students alike asking about this sort of thing. Even when students approach the school administrators with concerns regarding a fellow student’s background, they are largely ignored and the issue is left to the state licensing department to deny the application.
Is it not the school’s responsibility to protect the public?
Is it not the school’s responsibility to inform the potential student that a prior conviction will make it impossible to get a license to practice and urge that student to spend their money pursuing another career?
What do you think? Am I being unreasonable? Expecting too much of massage schools? Too little? Let me know in the comments below.
RCW means “Revised Code of Washington”. WAC means “Washington Administrative Code”. All RCW and WAC for the state of Washington are available online at http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/ and http://apps.leg.wa.gov/WAC/default.aspx, respectively.
1 – A Class C felony is the least serious in the state of WA.
2 – Child molestation in the third degree: the victim is between the ages of 14 and 16 and the perpetrator is at least 48 months older than the victim. It is a class C felony. RCW9A.44.089