A Florida man has been told his juvenile felony conviction will disqualify him from continuing in a teaching internship program. Travis Hudson, 33, was convicted when he was 15 years old for being an accessory to a crime, which is considered a felony. Hudson knew about a burglary but failed to report it. Since he was able to obtain employment as an adult without any problems, Hudson thought his conviction was put behind him. He wasn’t worried when it came time for a background check to complete the last of his internship for the Bartow School District since he believed his juvenile records to be sealed. However, according to Don Wilson, labor lawyer for the School District, when public agencies conduct background checks in Florida they have access to sealed records. Hudson was required to complete the internship in order to receive a bachelor’s degree in education and his teacher’s certificate. He had already completed two 16-week internships at two different elementary schools within the School District. For those internship stints, Hudson and other University of South Florida Polytechnic elementary education students were fingerprinted prior to their participation. Wilson contends that USF Poly and Hudson were informed that he was ineligible for the internship from the outset. However, Hudson was permitted to participate in the internships, according to Wilson, since he was “at no time…left alone with the children.” Hudson was then set to participate in a teaching internship through a minority schoolteacher program, when a background check revealed his criminal past.
Several school districts across the state of Florida have a policy of not hiring convicted felons similar to the Bartow School District. While other school districts will consider applicants with felonies, Hudson said it wouldn’t be a convenient option for him due to his five children. Frank O’Reilly, a Bartow School Board member, doesn’t want to see a change in the hiring policy, but believes there should be an appeals process for sitiuations such as Hudson’s. According to O’Reilly, “I think it is unfair. I don’t think it should be on his record.” Another School Board member, Debra Wright, would like to see more done for Hudson. She is “very disappointed” and thinks a blanket policy will “narrow [their] ability to hire.”
Hudson’s case is representative of the reason some states such as Massachusetts have recently passed laws restricting access to criminal records as discussed in the article Massachusetts Revises Law to Both Give and Restrict Employer’s Access to Criminal Records . No matter the specifics of the laws in your area, it is up to employers to decide whether or not to carry out background checks on potential employees. Once that decision has been made it becomes important to comply with both federal and state legislations covering employment screening. By using a reputable company like backgroundchecks.com, you can be assured you are getting both the best and most thorough screening techniques available and access to compliance information and advice. With access to countless criminal databases nationwide they have many options available, several with instant results. Their US OneSEARCH gives you instant information from more than 430 million criminal records from counties, Department of Corrections (DOC), Administration of Courts (AOC) and State Sex Offender Registries covering 49 states plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and Guam. Also included are national and international terrorism sources, more than 11 million photos, and their proprietary database of previously completed reports.
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