New York City Pre-K Background Checks Get Results

By Michael Klazema on 9/8/2014

This summer, the Department of Education in New York City launched a fingerprint background check initiative designed to keep pre-kindergarten education centers safe. And based on early figures released by city officials and reported by, the new program is already getting favorable results.

Per the new background check initiative, the NYC Department of Education ran fingerprint screenings of every new employee of every pre-K educational program in the city. The background checks, in other words, did not just relate to instructors or to people who will be working directly with children but to everyone employed by these educational centers.

To run the checks, the city collected fingerprints of new pre-K employees and ran them through numerous criminal and sex offender databases, both at the state and national FBI level. All told, the Department of Education collected fingerprints for some 3,000 employees over the summer in preparation for the new school year. The majority of those prospective employees, 2,755 people to be exact, were cleared for employment in pre-K educational settings.

The remainder, however, about 245 applicants, have been rejected from working in pre-K centers because they have criminal records. Precisely what criteria New York City's Department of Education used to reject these employees is not currently clear. Does the mere existence of a criminal record disqualify an applicant from working in one of the city's pre-K education centers, or has the Department of Education considered each case individually and only rejected the applicants who pose an obvious risk to the children they would be hired to educate and keep safe?

Either way, it's clear that the new Department of Education system is getting results. Without background checks, how many of the rejected criminal applicants would have slipped through the cracks?

Of course, the system is not perfect. The city has opted, for now at least, not to re-screen all existing pre-K workers, of which there are thousands. That means that there could still be closet offenders working with pre-K students in centers throughout the city. However, the Department of Education did audit each pre-K center prior to launching the fingerprint background check policy, partially to make sure that background checks had been run on the employees at each location. Those employees won't have been checked at the FBI level, but at least they have undergone some form of background checks.

It isn't entirely surprising that the Department of Education has opted to hold off on re-screening old workers, at least for the time being. The department's headquarters in Brooklyn has been incredibly busy lately, running fingerprint background checks on prospective pre-K educators into the late hours of the evening and dealing with long lines of prospective pre-K employees waiting to be fingerprinted.


Tag Cloud
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • June 14 Ban the box laws aim to improve opportunities for employment. Could they have the opposite effect instead?
  • June 13 Jacobs Petroleum Products is a regional petroleum company that operates throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and Maryland. Apart from their employees carrying much responsibility and have frequent contact with customers, the company’s hiring also tends to be segmented since individual store managers are responsible for hiring talent for their own stores. In this employment landscape, Jacobs Petroleum Products needed a reliable and effective way to screen its new hires for criminal infractions and other red flags.
  • June 12

    The University of Wisconsin System may tweak its hiring and reference check processes. The potential changes come after one of UW’s assistant deans was accused of sexual harassment.

  • June 07 Stories of abuse by coaches in youth sports leagues continue to crop up around the country, but rules and guidelines remain patchy and enforcement is often lacking. The struggle to implement an effective system continues nationwide.
  • June 07 Financial background checks, usually referred to as credit history checks, can be an effective way to find out if a candidate is fit to handle accounts, financial data, and other assets at your business.
  • June 06 The Society for Human Resource Management and the Charles Koch Institute recently commissioned a survey to find out how willing employers were to hire people with criminal records. The study indicates that managers, HR professionals, and employees themselves are becoming more comfortable with the idea of hiring and working with ex-offenders.
  • June 04 Are fingerprint background checks the gold standard for employee screening, or are they overhyped? We look at some of the myths and misconceptions surrounding these checks.
  • June 04 The organization, The Family Resource Center of North Mississippi (FRCNMS) was founded on the belief that families are the heart of community and that promoting healthy families leads to healthy communities. Read more about how they carefully screen and vet new employees with the help of
  • June 01 Past mistakes can have lingering effects in criminal records that appear on background checks. People with minor convictions can erase those mistakes for help starting over. 
  • May 29 The city of Greenley, Colorado has added background checks and new affidavits to its process for screening candidates for city council. The new measures come after a candidate with a felony conviction for forgery got elected as city councilman.