Although background checks are required for all school personnel and anyone who works with kids, two employees at Hickman Elementary School in Mira Mesa did not get screened before being hired. This information was discovered after the San Diego Unified School District performed an internal audit. Even though these employees’ background had not been checked, they have been interacting with students on a regular basis.
A school district representative said the audit was not entirely true though, because the two people “were never actually hired” or paid. It is unclear why the two weren’t officially hired, but it appears that it was because they didn’t pass a security check. The district would not comment on why because they claimed it was a personnel issue. The district also refused to release their names.
Mike Saltzstein though says, “the report is absolute nonsense.” He has become an avid promoter of background checks and internal audits after exposing James Pentera, a volunteer Sierra High School swim coach who had a felony record. This was not originally discovered because Pentera’s check was never completed. He was allowed to work with students until Saltzstein discovered his background. This situation is very similar to the current one, in that the two workers at the elementary school, whether staff or volunteers, should have undergone background checks before being allowed to work with students.
The situation is under further review and the media has been investigating the matter as well. Channel 10 of San Diego intends to do a full story on their evening broadcast, so it is yet to be seen if they will be able to obtain further comments from any involved parties. One thing is certain though, parents will not be happy about it, and the elementary school and school district is likely to see some heat from the public.
Across the nation, all states now have policies requiring people who work with kids to pass background checks, but time and time again employees are popping up who have somehow slipped through the cracks. This may be due to human resources error or blatant disregard for the regulations. Either way, it is imperative that any organization dealing with children has processes in place to ensure enforcement of their processes that dictate checks for current and potential employee and keeps careful record of those checks. By working with backgroundchecks.com, these companies can have instant access to over 450 million criminal records with the US OneSEARCH tool. This will let them know if a potential employee has any criminal convictions on their record. The US Offender OneSEARCH tool is also useful in that it shows convictions for sex offenses. Most schools participate in FBI fingerprinting, but the records at backgroundchecks.com are checked for accuracy and updated more often, ensuring companies get the most recent results, even more so than the FBI process.
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Author: Michael Klazema