SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -

Statement from Springfield Public Schools Superintendent Norm Ridder:

Last night we learned the terrible news that one of our students had been abducted near her home. This morning our sadness is compounded by the recent developments in the case of Hailey Owens' abduction.

The suspect in this case, Craig Michael Wood, was arrested by Springfield Police Department. Wood has been employed by SPS since Aug. 18, 1998. He works as a paraprofessional and athletic coach at Pleasant View K-8 School. His employment has been suspended until this matter is resolved.

Hailey is a student at Westport Elementary School and last year she attended Bowerman Elementary School.

I offer my support to Hailey's family and to our SPS community.  Students and staff at three of our schools are coping with this situation. To support these school communities directly impacted by this tragedy, I have assigned additional counseling staff and school police officers to be on hand until further notice.

We are fully cooperating with law enforcement officials as their investigation continues. Because this is an ongoing investigation, I will not be making any further comments about the situation at this time.

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Here's a statement from the district on how potential employees are screened:

New employees hired with SPS are issued a conditional offer of employment which identifies the successful completion of a background check as one of its contingencies.

The background check process is mandated by state law and includes a check of open and closed records at the local (municipal), state, and national levels and coordinates information from multiple agencies including local authorities and the FBI.

In addition to what is required by state law, SPS adds an additional check of the Family Care Safety Registry which pulls information from more than a dozen local, state, and national agencies and reports information which may deem the potential employee to be unsuitable for work with children (e.g., a substantiated allegation of child abuse or neglect, etc...).

Hiring managers receive automated notifications from the HR Department when applicants have cleared their background and they may be around students.  No newly hired employee is allowed to be around students until they have cleared all portions of the background check process.