BAIROIL -- A teacher and parents of the five students at Bairoil Elementary School formed a small group and prayed for God's guidance to keep them calm before the Town Council met Wednesday evening.

It must have helped, because Mayor M.D. Reaser didn't eject any of them for their angry denunciations of Police Chief John Scott.

On Jan. 16 and March 9, Scott escorted a maintenance man from Saratoga -- a registered sex offender -- to the school during school hours to make plumbing repairs, according to the parents and acknowledged by Reaser, Town Attorney Peggy Trent, and other council members.

"This incident with a sex offender brought into the school with my children present appalls me," Kristi Johnson said. "This is supposed to be a safe community and our police officer is supposed to provide our safety and not break the law by creating unsafe situations."

Parent Veronica Duke read the Wyoming law about registered sex offenders on school grounds when children are present, and the policy of the Carbon County School District, which requires written permission from a school's principal for registered sex offenders to be on school property. While Bairoil is within the northeast corner of Sweetwater County, its school belongs to the Carbon County School District.

"I request no less than the termination of Officer Scott due to his actions toward our school and our children," Duke said. "Registered sex offenders should never be presented to our children in a school, giving our children false ideas that he or she is a safe person or friend. This is an insult to our staff, children and parents. Officer Scott has violated and disgraced the badge he [wears]."

Johnson, Duke and others said they have contacted lawyers and are considering taking legal action against the mayor, council and Scott.

Their concerns are complicated by the relationship between the school and the town, because the town owns the school building itself, said Bairoil Attorney Peggy Trent.

The school district leases the space used for education, but the rest is technically property of the municipality, Trent said.

Bairoil -- population of about 100 -- has had a problem finding qualified skilled labor, said Tony Rigano, who runs the town's water and sewer infrastructure.

Rigano found plumber Joe Banta in Saratoga.

Recalling the March incident, Rigano said Scott escorted Banta into the "cafetorium," or cafeteria-auditorium. "No children were there."

Speaking over the objections of some of the parents, Rigano deemed the matter a personal spat, he said. "What we have here is a witch hunt."

According to the parents and the school's teacher, Joyce Gould, Scott escorted Banta through the cafetorium to the kitchen on March 9 to fix the sink a half-hour before the end of the school day.

Gould said she asked Banta who he was, that she recognized him and told Scott that Banta had not obtained permission to be on the school premises.

Banta was convicted of third-degree sexual assault in 2004 and is on lifetime supervision, according to the Wyoming Attorney General's sex offender registry.

According to Gould, Banta realized he should not have been on school property and said, "'I need to get out of here.'"

However, Scott insisted that Banta do the plumbing work, as well as insisting he had the authority to do what he wanted, Gould and parents said.

The police chief also said any school staff who resisted him would be arrested.

After the parents spoke, Scott said the threat of litigation meant he couldn't talk about the incidents

"I'm going to refer everything to the [town] attorney," he said. "I'm not going to comment."

Technically, attorney Trent said the cafetorium is not in the lease agreement with the school.

The lease agreement needs to be amended, Trent said.

But the attorney's dispassionate review of the issue aggravated tensions.

Reaser finally said, "This is over."

But not before resident tried to offer an olive branch to the mayor and council.

"We have parents and residents who feel their Town Council has let them down," she said. "You need to take the time to listen."

Even though Trent will be working to resolve the bureaucratic glitches so such an incident doesn't happen again, the parents are still angry, she said.

Reaser responded with "What about my anger?"

The mayor didn't want to hear any more about the incidents involving Banta and Scott, either, he said. "I will not cooperate with this and I will not fire John Scott."

Reach Tom Morton at 307-266-0592, or at You can read his blog at and follow him on Twitter @GTMorton.

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