On the surface, it looks as if Glastonbury Public Schools, a school district located in Glastonbury, Connecticut, has fairly standard employee screening policies. As part of the application process, all teachers and other workers employed by the school district have to be fingerprinted and background checked. The fingerprints are checked by both the state police and by the FBI, all in search of criminal or sex offender histories that may make an applicant unfit to serve in an educational environment.
Sounds safe, right? Indeed, under optimal circumstances, a background check policy like the one maintained by Glastonbury Public Schools would be more than adequate for keeping students safe. But what about less-than-perfect circumstances? Specifically, what about lag times in state and FBI fingerprint checks that force the district to jump the gun with hiring decisions?
Such was the case recently in Glastonbury, when a man was hired to a paraprofessional technology position before his fingerprint background check results cleared. Soon after his summer hiring date, the man was arrested for allegedly stealing iPads and other electronic devices from the school district. The twist? His background check report didn't arrive until the day he was arrested. When that happened, the district learned that he had a criminal record, had served jail time in the past, and had a documented problem with heroin addiction.
Did the school district fail to do its due diligence here? Should they have waited for the man's background check reports to come back before offering him a job? Did they put students in danger by not waiting? These questions and others were undoubtedly asked in Glastonbury after the tech paraprofessional was arrested. The issue, though, is that there are no easy answers.
Because of the lag times inherent in state and FBI fingerprint checks, the Glastonbury school district consistently faces a dilemma when it comes to making hiring decisions. On one hand, it's important to run the background checks and make sure employees are safe and trustworthy.
On another hand, FBI background checks typically take two months, which is an absurd amount of time for anyone to wait to hear whether or not they got a job. If the school district were to wait that length of time, they would risk losing interested and qualified candidates. Add the fact that many vacant school positions have to be filled swiftly, to avoid disruptions to student learning, and it's easy to see that Glastonbury Public Schools was in a tight spot when it came to this particular employee screening process.
Is there a solution? Quicker background checks. FBI fingerprint screenings are thorough, but they take a long time, and no employer should risk hiring someone who they haven't screened thoroughly. Something like US OneSEARCH, an instant nationwide screening option offered by backgroundchecks.com, could be a worthy compromise in a situation like this. OneSEARCH combs through over 500 million records, culled from every state and territory in the country.