School District Fails to Run Background Checks on Some Employees

South Carolina’s Jasper County School District officials have recently revealed that not all employees have received background checks, a requirement of state law and school district policy. According to Ken Childs, the school district attorney, there was a misunderstanding in interpretation of the state law requiring that school districts must check the backgrounds of all potential employees before they are hired. The Jasper County School District erroneously believed that the checks weren’t required if the potential hire had already been employed by another district within South Carolina. Although it is unclear how many district employees have not been screened before being hired, the school district is currently checking records and plans to perform checks on those who are missing them, according to Childs.

Childs states the confusion comes from a statute requiring background checks before the “initial employment” of classroom instructors, which was interpreted by the district to indicate that a teacher never before employed within South Carolina. Childs said it was a “widespread” and “common interpretation.” But the law was revised in 2010 requiring anyone that will be working at a school to get a screening done with the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division. While some employees have been screened, Childs said teachers and any other certified employees only had a check performed if it was believed by the district that a check had not been done previously. The district’s trustees board adopted the district-wide policy in 2010 requiring background checks.

This problem was revealed when Vashti Washington, the district superintendent, announced in a press release that the school district failed to conduct a background check on the new academics and human resources head in 2010. Media reports show that Arthur Lee Holmes was charged with embezzlement of $5,000 or more while working as an elementary school principal within Berkeley County, S.C., a few months after being hired by the Jasper School District. However, there are no court records of Holmes’ arrest and they are thought to have been expunged. According to Washington, failing to perform a criminal screening on Holmes was a “mistake” and “he did not have a criminal record” at the time he was hired. Childs maintains that Holmes “has a clean record today” and he will continue his employment in the school district.

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Michael Klazema

About Michael Klazema The author

Michael Klazema is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments

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