All employers have a responsibility to ensure the safest work environment possible for their employees. Schools and school districts have the added obligation of providing a secure, nurturing learning environment for their students. Teacher background checks are a core piece of this equation and a crucial step that schools take to ensure that they are doing their due diligence and living up to their responsibilities. Which background checks do schools typically conduct on their employees?
Not all school background checks are teacher background checks—teachers are just one employee category for a school district. Other categories include administrators (principals and vice principals), custodial staff, kitchen or cafeteria workers, librarians, information technology professionals, and bus drivers.
The employee background checks that schools use to vet different workers vary by position. For instance, for a bus driver, a driving history check is a central part of the background check process; most other education-related jobs won’t require a driving history check.
Teacher background checks are in-depth because teachers are entrusted with educating and watching over kids and teenagers. The potential for abuse or misconduct in these jobs is high, and it is a risk that schools and school districts are eager to avoid. As such, teacher background checks will usually include some mix of the following:
- Criminal history checks. Criminal history searches—whether at the county, state, or federal level—are the central part of most employee background checks for teachers. Schools are looking for a history of violence, sexual abuse, child abuse, or neglect, though other crimes, including drug offenses, may also be red flags. At backgroundchecks.com, we offer the US OneSEARCH, which not only searches 650 million criminal records from across the United States and associated territories but also sex offender registries.
- Professional license checks. Teachers must be licensed and certified at the state level to teach in a school environment. Schools will often take steps to verify an applicant’s teacher certification before finalizing a new hire.
- Education verifications. To become a licensed teacher, a professional must have a teaching degree from a college or university. School background checks will often incorporate education verification to check that the education and degree that a teacher claims is genuine.
- Employment history checks. As with most other employee background checks, teachers checks will typically include an employment history check. This background check allows schools to verify past employment listed on a teacher’s resume and get a sense of the teacher’s professional experience. If a teacher was fired from a past job for misconduct, that information will often be revealed by this background check. Schools may also use reference checks, speaking to a teacher’s former employers or colleagues to learn about their teaching style, work ethic, manner with students, and other characteristics.
Other checks may also be a part of the process for teacher screenings. Drug testing is not uncommon, as schools are usually strict drug-free workplaces. Some schools may also request ongoing criminal monitoring for their teachers so that they can be notified if an existing employee is arrested, charged, or convicted of a crime. At backgroundchecks.com, we are proud to offer an affordable ongoing criminal monitoring service for our clients.
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About Michael Klazema The author
Michael Klazema is Chief Marketing Technologist at EY-VODW.com and has over two decades of experience in digital consulting, online product management, and technology innovation. He is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based backgroundchecks.com with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments.