Most people agree that there is a need to protect children from predators who may work at or volunteer in their schools. Normally this is accomplished by performing criminal background checks on any and all individuals who will have opportunities to be alone with kids. In South Vermillion, Ind., however, the local school district has added a new twist to this idea: everyone who attends special school events that place them in close proximity to kids will be required to pass a criminal background check. This includes parents and relatives.
The 2013-2014 school year will be the first time that this new rule will be enforced in the South Vermillion school district. Each parent will receive a personal background check form along with their child’s registration packet in early August. Parents who refuse to fill out the form and submit to a criminal background check will automatically be barred from attending special school events such as plays, field trips, and class parties. Parents who fail the background check will also be barred.
The goal is to identify parents or relatives with worrisome criminal records and prevent them from having opportunities to interact with kids. Individuals with a history of violent crimes or drug dealing would be examples of the types of people that the school district is seeking to exclude. The background check will be carried out by school secretaries who will have access to the Indiana State Police background check system.
When using background checks to protect kids from predators, thoroughness is vital. That’s why it is best to use a national background check tool rather than a state or regional one. A national background check tool such as US OneSEARCH from backgroundchecks.com provides a very complete picture of an individual’s background because it searches criminal records from multiple state and local sources. US OneSEARCH compares a name and date of birth against a collection of 450 million public criminal records taken from local databases in every state plus Puerto Rico. If there is any concern about individuals providing false names in order to keep their past convictions hidden, US AliasSEARCH can be used in conjunction with US OneSEARCH. This allows officials to run a Social Security number trace to uncover all known aliases and then search for records related to those aliases.
One potential flaw in the South Vermillion school district’s system is that most of the background check forms get filled out at the beginning of each school year so that they can be kept on file for future reference throughout the year. Naturally this means that the school will not be aware of any crimes committed after the background check process has been completed. Parents also have the option of waiting until one week before an event before submitting to the background check.
So far, parents of students in South Vermillion schools seem supportive of the new background check requirements. Heather Sanquenetti, parent of a new middle school student, was happy to receive her personal background check form in her child’s registration packet. “I absolutely encourage them and think everyone should have to pass to get into the school building,” she said.
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Author: Michael Klazema