New Jersey Borough Deals with Recreation Background Check Issues

By Michael Klazema on 10/30/2014

The Borough of Dumont, New Jersey is forming a committee that will be responsible for Recreation Commission bylaw changes after recreation-related background check issues caused chatter in the community. The issue involved three coaches who were allowed to work with kids despite background checks that indicated criminal history or were never filed correctly. The three coaches, who were all local youth sports volunteers for the Recreation Commission, have been sent letters revoking their permissions to coach.

The Mayor of the community has refused to disclose the names of the three volunteers, which sports they helped to coach, and what sort of criminal offenses led to their dismissal. However, one of the three coaches has come forward, and is surprisingly a candidate currently running for Town Council. The candidate's criminal history of a sale of a controlled substance's conviction from way back when he was a teenager, had already come out in the course of his political campaign.

The Town Council candidate says he followed protocol and disclosed his criminal record to the Recreation Commission. However, Recreation Commission officials are telling a different story, saying that the man improperly filed his criminal history disclosure. As a result of this improper filing, the recreation department launched background checks of several coaches, ultimately flagging the three coaches that have now been banned from volunteering with youth sports.

The findings also led to the organization of the committee that will now decide how the Recreation Commission should handle background checks going forward. What sort of checks should be run on volunteers? And how will background check findings be used to approve or disqualify volunteers? The new committee will answer these questions, among others.

Borough officials were right in this case to do their due diligence and respond to what they thought were red flags on the records of coaches. They saw something suspicious, and decided to run extra background checks to make sure that local kids were kept safe.However, the borough's way of going about the process showed a lack of organization that is far more worrisome than a man with a decades-old drug charge coaching a youth football team.

New Jersey state law says that volunteers can be disqualified from working with youth sports teams or other youth organizations if they have a criminal history including violence, any acts against family or children, theft, or any involvement with illegal substances.

However, state law also allows individuals with such criminal charges to be cleared as youth service volunteers by a police chief, which is what happened with two out of the three coaches in this situation. In other words, the borough ran background checks to find criminal histories that had already been disclosed, and sent letters to disqualify coaches who had already gone through the necessary steps to gain coaching approvals.

The problem is one of poor records. If the borough and the Recreation Commission of Dumont can't keep track of volunteers who have disclosed their criminal history and been cleared to coach in spite of it, then how can they hope to keep track of any sort of background check system? How can they know who has received background checks and who hasn't? How can they remember whether or not paperwork has been filed correctly? This story proves that, while rigid background check policies are needed, organization is needed even more to make those policies effective.


Industry News

Tag Cloud
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • December 11 The Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General criticized a migrant youth detention center on the border for not running the proper background checks. Federal law requires the facility to screen all employees with FBI fingerprint checks.
  • December 06 In a bid to combat money laundering and illicit funding sources for terrorists flowing through the country's real estate sector, Singapore's government now mandates background checks for buyers purchasing properties prior to development.
  • December 04 What is a reference check? How does it vary from a work history check? We explore these questions and others.
  • December 04 Chicago Public Schools has dismissed hundreds of employees, coaches, vendors, and volunteers based on background check findings. The district recently vowed to re-check the majority of its 68,000 employees after a Chicago Tribune investigation revealed holes in its background check policies.
  • November 29 Striving to create a safer environment more conducive to productive training and leadership development, the Army has recently moved to adopt a uniform policy of background checks for certain roles. 
  • November 27 For hiring managers to verify the information provided on a resume, verification is essential.  Such is the purpose of employment history background checks.
  • November 27 California‚Äôs biggest public school district is waiving the cost of volunteer background checks. The move is meant to encourage more family - and community members to get involved with the school district.
  • November 22 Contractors play an important role in the workforce, delivering services to both individuals and organizations. Vetting contractors for suitability continues to be a challenge, as two recent articles prove.
  • November 21 When it comes to background and pre-employment checks, it can be instructive to look at the characteristics of the ten most massive U.S. employers.
  • November 21

    Verification checks are a powerful way to assess how truthful a job candidate has been on his or her application or resume. These checks can verify work history, education verification, professional licenses, and favorable personal qualities.