Parents send their children to school, assuming that they will be safe, supervised, and cared for during their education. However, some teachers breach that bond of trust by crossing lines and committing crimes. While background checks at schools are an essential part of the hiring process and are meant to protect students, two recent stories highlight the importance of remaining vigilant even after hiring.
In New Hampshire, police formally charged a 63-year-old teacher with sexual assault and simple assault against one of his students. Controversy surrounds the case because of how the school handled parental notification regarding its investigation into the assault claims.
Although the school followed correct procedures in alerting state authorities and contacting the victim's family, parents of other children were not informed of the allegations until more than a month had passed. With the case still proceeding as of early 2022, it remains to be seen if additional allegations will arise from the student body.
In Arizona, a former teacher entered a guilty plea after a student’s parents uncovered inappropriate text messages and evidence of sexual contact between the two. Having already resigned his position and left the state, the court placed him on probation for three years.
However, due to the specific felony statute used to charge the teacher, he will not have to register as a sex offender in either Arizona or Florida. For parents wondering, "does a sex offender show up on a background check?" the answer is "yes" — even though this specific case would not yield such results. Because the teacher in question had his certifications revoked and now has a felony record, it is unlikely he could obtain new certifications and resume teaching in Florida.
Unfortunately, pre-employment teacher background checks can't predict future behavior. A clean criminal record today does not mean someone will never act inappropriately in the future. There is always some level of risk present, and thus it is imperative that schools enact guardrails and provide training that can minimize windows for misconduct.
In Arizona, for example, the misconduct began as a result of opportunities for inappropriate behavior created by pandemic-induced virtual learning. When administrators reviewed the teacher's school email account, they quickly found evidence of misconduct. Better oversight and supervision of teachers in these capacities may have prevented the situation from developing.
Aside from schools, background checks have a critical role in ensuring other employers can make fully informed hiring decisions. A business in Florida, for example, might use the US OneSEARCH by backgroundchecks.com to review results from criminal history databases nationwide.
Such a search would likely reveal the presence of the Arizona teacher's felony conviction — important information, especially if he were to seek a new position with some form of authority or oversight. While these tools cannot prevent crimes, they can play an essential role in mitigating risk in many situations.
About Michael Klazema The author
Michael Klazema is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based backgroundchecks.com with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments