Ineffective Employee Background Investigations of Educators and Staff
An increase in the number of cases involving sexual misconduct by teachers, administrators and staff in our nation’s schools prompts this investigative response. Recent arrests reported by media have publicized and uncovered flaws within hiring practices and educator candidate vetting. Protocols and procedures for the thorough vetting of new hires and even the notion of adding existing staff in predetermined sequential years for re-vetting needs review. While cursory reviews typically take place during the initial hiring process, clearly, thorough background investigations are not routinely conducted. If comprehensive vetting is performed by trained staff, it would likely uncover issues such an out of state arrest or prior litigation that would evidence the applicant’s or an employee’s past and most recent history.
Our research indicates that most school districts conduct background checks focused primarily on qualification and credentialing to determine if the prospective employee possessed the educational certifications and experience to qualify for the position. While fingerprinting is required of applicants in most school districts, the responding agencies including the F.B.I. do not provide arrest information, only records of convictions reported to those agencies. In some instances, the state bureau of identification may not have updated criminal conviction files in a timely fashion and may, as a matter of routine, purge criminal conviction information. Typically this takes place after ten years from the date of adjudication.
The safety, security and welfare of our children is the foremost responsibility of American educators. As such, thorough and comprehensive background investigations of educators and staff, to whom we entrust our children, must be given high priority. Simply put, both Public and Private Schools must do a better job to preclude and prevent abuse of our children.