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Schools Remain Critical Environments for Thorough and Complete Background Screening

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May 22, 2014 Return to News & Events

Schools Remain Critical Environments for Thorough and Complete Background Screening

School districts are responsible for the security and safety of all students and a key tool utilized during the hiring process to maintain safety are criminal background checks.  Across the United States individuals having contact with children on school campuses or within a school district are routinely screened.  However, challenges persist.

As reported in the New Hampshire Union Leader (April 05, 2014: www.UnionLeadercom):

Christopher LeBlanc, 29, was arrested last month and charged with four counts of felonious sexual assault stemming from an alleged relationship with a 14-year-old student. Claremont officials were unaware when LeBlanc was hired last year that he had pleaded guilty in 2006 to one count of conspiracy to transmit stolen goods, for which he paid a $100 fine.

New Hampshire is unique insomuch they are only allowed to report back very specific felonies.

…in a policy that distinguishes the state from its New England neighbors, the state police are only required to inform the district of a narrow set of crimes: murder, kidnapping, sexual assault, child pornography and child abuse.

Neighboring states tend to have more stringent and complete policies regarding background screening of individuals that come into contact and/or unsupervised contact with children.

In Vermont, school districts are entitled to criminal conviction records of prospective employees, including student teachers, temporary employees and anyone under contract to an independent school or school district who may have unsupervised contact with children, according to the Vermont Criminal Information Center at the state Department of Public Safety.

The issues with the New Hampshire background screening policies came to light when a former Claremont High School substitute teacher was charged with felony sexual assault on an underage student and was found to have a prior felony conviction.

A separate headline indicates another potential weakness in educational pre-employment screening. 
From WAFB’s website, (Apr 04, 2014:

The Shreveport Police Sex Crimes detectives were called to Fair Park High School just after 9 a.m. after a female student said she was inappropriately touched by a teacher's aide while at school.
Reports say 60-year-old Bobby Jelks groped a 17-year-old student at various times during the previous school day. Police believe the inappropriate behavior may have happened over a period of time in the past several weeks.

Adam Almeida, President and CEO of states:  “School administrators and educators have a challenging job and protecting students is certainly one of the most challenging aspects.  Conducting a thorough background check on all aspects of an individual's past is critical.  It is important to not only have the broadest enquiry conducted on an individual but an enquiry on every potential individual that comes in contact with students, including teachers, bus drivers, janitors, volunteers, and aides.”

The best practice for a school district is to work with a third party background screening company, one that is fully versed in the rules and regulations that govern pre-employment hiring and the use of public records.  Having a full and comprehensive background screening policy is the first step.  By utilizing an array of public records, combined with a thorough interview, one can gain a solid understanding of an individual’s past.

“Working with a third-party background screening company is really the best way to set up a pre-employment screening policy, specifically for schools and school districts, as well as any other type of business,” Almeida states. is a third-party background screening company that can assist a school district, both public and private, set-up a thorough and comprehensive background screening policy.  In an ever changing world it is critical that schools, and businesses in general, work with third-party background screening companies to stay current with laws and regulations.

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