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New Hampshire State Representative Urges Full Disclosure of School Workers’ Criminal Histories

By Michael Klazema on 3/18/2013

Kenneth Kimber, a member of the I.T. department at Portsmouth, New Hampshire School Department was fired from his job after his arrest on internet-sex charges. He is currently charged for three felony counts of prohibited computer use and five felonies alleging indecent exposure to a 14-year-old girl. During his arraignment, his previous criminal history was disclosed and included convictions of simple assault, failure to appear in court, and operating after a suspension. Despite his criminal record, the school superintendent Ed McDonough stated that the school itself was unaware of these prior convictions. The School Department sent Kimber's fingerprints to the state police twice for background checks and both times the state police advisory reports came back clean. Kimber's criminal history was not disclosed to the school due to a state law that limits what the police can tell to schools' requests for criminal background checks. Currently, only the following list of crimes can be reported to school officials for the purposes of hiring potential employees: capital murder, first-degree murder, second-degree murder, manslaughter, aggravated felonious sexual assault, felonious sexual assault, sexual assault, kidnapping, incest, endangering the welfare of a child, indecent exposure or lewdness, prostitution and related offenses, child pornography, computer pornography, certain uses of computers, and “obscene matter offenses involving a child.”

In light of this arrest, Representative Rebecca Emerson-Brown is calling for expanded disclosure of criminal histories of school employees. She states "We need to ensure our children are in a safe environment." While Brown believes that people have a right to their privacy, certain charges such as assault should be disclosed to schools. Deputy Police Chief Core MacDonald agrees with Brown's assessment. Since school employees are placed in a position of trust, he believes they should be required to reveal their full criminal history. This way, the hiring entity can make an informed decision and potentially prevent future incidents from occurring. The New Hampshire state police department, for example, requires all candidates to submit to full background checks and also take a lie detector test to confirm that they have never been arrested for a crime. Many other states require a mandatory background check of all school employees with all of the details revealed to school officials.

Unfortunately, there are some lawmakers who are against revealing the full criminal histories of school employees. During a debate, Brown brought up the topic of a more thorough background check and stated that "some lawmakers balked at the $25 cost to conduct a criminal background check." Despite this opposition, Brown hopes to bring the topic up to more legislators in hopes of changing the law. Although a background check does not ensure that people without a record will not abuse their position, it does prevent those with a criminal background from working with children.

By having a policy in your pre-employment process that includes a full background check, applicants will be well aware of what is required of them before they even decide to apply. This way, you can make sure you have access to criminal histories. In order to take care of these thorough checks quickly and affordably, you can use an instant service, such as those provided by backgroundchecks.com. They offer instant results from the US OneSEARCH tool, which has access to more than 450 million criminal records across the country. They can also check their US AliasSEARCH product, to see if any records come up for the same person under a different name.

About backgroundchecks.com -

backgroundchecks.com - 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., backgroundchecks.com is home to one of the largest online criminal conviction databases in the industry. For more information about backgroundchecks’ offerings, please visit www.backgroundchecks.com.

Source: http://www.seacoastonline.com/articles/20130307-NEWS-130309808

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