School Board Considering Stricter Teacher Background Checks

By Michael Klazema on 9/3/2012

The Duval County school board in Florida is reviewing its hiring procedures due to two separate incidents of school district teachers arrested for molesting students. Last year, Southside Middle School teacher Robert Luke was charged with sexual battery of a 15-year-old student. More recently, Christopher Bacca, a teacher at Windy Hill Elementary School was arrested for the sexual molestation of a student under 12. Bacca is currently facing several charges of molestation, while Luke has yet to be sentenced for his charges. Both teachers initially passed background checks with the school district, even though they each had been investigated previously due to allegations of misconduct with children without being charged.

The human resources director of Duval school district, Sonita Young, had several recommendations for changing hiring practices within the district. Those included better inter-agency communications, review of training requirements, and actions to strengthen the background check process. School board member Becki Couch agrees that there should be “very tight policies in place” for district employees, and that they are the same “throughout the district.” Although school board members are unsure what the impact of the new rules will be, the hope is that the tighter regulations will do more to protect children within the district.

Parents of students from Windy Hill Elementary are wondering why the school allowed Bacca to teach there, after the first investigation into his alleged misconduct. Parent Eliza Morales is concerned because her sons went to a camp program Bacca was leading. Officials from the school said they are reviewing how the Sheriff’s Office and Department of Children and Families communicate with the district. They will also review policies with the contractor that provides substitute teachers to the school district. The school board is also considering taking teachers out of the classroom for misconduct, even if they are not charged with a crime. Morales is glad school officials are taking steps to address the problems. She said, “As parents, we have to do our own background checks,” and the “incident [has opened her] eyes.”

When it comes to the safety of students, every precaution should be taken to assure their best interests are being met. Nothing less than the highest standards of screening should be expected. If your business employs individuals that have access to children, you need to make performing comprehensive background checks a part of your routine hiring policy. By using a reputable company like, you can be assured you are getting the best and most thorough background check screening techniques available. 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. Or try their Ongoing Criminal Monitoring tool, which allows you to automatically run a continuous background check against a name and date of birth. You will be notified via email of any new information that may appear on their record. They will run the name for one year and remind you when it is time to renew the monitoring, plus you can remove the name from being monitored at any time.

About - - a founding member of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) and cofounder of the Expungement Clearinghouse - serves thousands of customers nationwide, from small businesses to Fortune 100 companies by providing comprehensive screening services. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, with an Eastern Operations Center in Chapin, S.C., is home to one of the largest online criminal conviction databases in the industry. For more information about backgroundchecks’ offerings, please visit



Tag Cloud
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • March 20 Employers who use E-Verify must follow the proper steps and procedures when they receive a “tentative non-confirmation notice” from either the Social Security Administration or Department of Homeland Security. Failure to follow the proper procedures can cost employers both time and money. 
  • March 20

    Four Department of Commerce employees are out after their background checks resulted in security clearance denials. All four had worked high-ranking positions for months despite incomplete background checks.

  • March 15 As more states legalize the recreational use of cannabis, they contend with the emergence of new industries surrounding marijuana cultivation and production. 
  • March 14 In most cases, it is easy to determine where an issue might show up on a pre-employment background check. Citations for traffic violations or reckless driving charges will appear on a motor vehicle record check. Verdicts in a civil court case will show on a civil court background check. And criminal convictions—from petty theft to violent felonies—show up on criminal background checks.
  • March 13 How many years back do employment background checks go? This question can have multiple different answers depending on the situation.
  • March 13 A new bill in Florida would require landlords of apartment complexes to present tenants with verifications of employee background checks to give them peace of mind the people working in and around their homes are trustworthy.
  • March 08 Police officers working with the University of Texas at Arlington recently arrested a man who had avoided police capture on a warrant out of Oregon for nearly two decades. The man, whose real name is Daniel Charles Ray Hanson, spent those 17 years using a variety of fake names and identification documents to move around the country, often engaging with educational institutions under false pretenses. Police say Hanson regularly went by at least three different aliases. He sports a rap sheet that stretches back to an arson conviction in 1995. 
  • March 07

    The Future of EEOC Guidance in Texas Is Up in the Air

    The EEOC issued guidance in 2012 warning employers about the dangers of enforcing categorical policies to bar candidates with criminal histories. That guidance is not enforceable in Texas thanks to a recent court ruling.

  • March 05 Vermont is the latest state to restrict employers’ access to and use of social media accounts of employees and applicants. 
  • March 01 In an age of "industry disruptors" turning established business models on their heads, companies such as Uber and Lyft rely on a unique workforce of individuals outside the traditional employer-employee context. Uber calls them "partners" while other businesses refer to them as "independent contractors," the official classification these individuals use for tax purposes. Recently, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) revealed they had warned a business, Postmates, for misclassifying their staff as independent contractors. In the NLRB's determination, these individuals were employees.