Indiana Considers Extra Background Checks for Teachers

By Michael Klazema on 7/22/2016

In response to a slew of news stories about teachers caught engaging in sexual relationships with their students, Indiana legislators recently met to mull over the possibility of introducing extra teacher background check requirements. According to a report from Fort Wayne-based newspaper The Journal Gazette, the state already added a new background check measure for teachers this year. That law required educators to go through a "child protection check" with the state's Department of Child Services.

Now, the state is dealing with a new crisis. The country is witnessing an uptick in stories about teachers charged with sexual misconduct. The problem has been particularly concentrated around central Indiana, according to the Journal Gazette article. Three recent Indiana cases involved male teachers in their 30s who had inappropriate sexual relationships with young female students. Two of those teachers are serving prison sentences; the third is currently facing charges.

State legislators want to address this growing concern, and they are looking to background checks as the solution. In 2009, Indiana implemented a new law that elevated the scope of teacher background checks from statewide to multi-jurisdictional. Under the law, only new hires were required to undergo broader background checks. Any teachers hired before 2009 still only have Indiana state background checks on record.

Lawmakers have proposed potential solutions to this problem. One representative suggested that it might be time for a full-scale update to teacher background checks throughout Indiana. His proposal is to recheck every licensed teacher in the state regardless of when they were hired. Another legislator suggested that the state should require each teacher to go through a background check every three to five years. This suggestion, if it became law, would ensure that the personnel background checks that schools have on record would not become outdated.

Two main concerns with these proposals were raised at a recent legislative committee meeting. The first is that the checks would be expensive. Right now, background check costs are covered by individual school districts. The state could require teachers to shoulder these expenses to avoid putting schools into a difficult situation regarding their budgets. However, as participants identified, teachers themselves would likely object to that option.

The second concern is over whether or not improved background checks would truly solve the problem. The legislative committee interviewed the CEO of the background check company that provides screenings for teachers throughout Indiana's many school districts. The CEO didn't reject the idea that extra background checks might help create a safer environment for students. However, he did point out that the teachers recently arrested for sexual misconduct in Indiana didn't have criminal records. As he identified, there is not always a pattern of abuse or misconduct to help predict when these inappropriate student-teacher relationships are going to happen.


Tag Cloud
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • March 15 As more states legalize the recreational use of cannabis, they contend with the emergence of new industries surrounding marijuana cultivation and production. 
  • March 14 In most cases, it is easy to determine where an issue might show up on a pre-employment background check. Citations for traffic violations or reckless driving charges will appear on a motor vehicle record check. Verdicts in a civil court case will show on a civil court background check. And criminal convictions—from petty theft to violent felonies—show up on criminal background checks.
  • March 13 How many years back do employment background checks go? This question can have multiple different answers depending on the situation.
  • March 13 A new bill in Florida would require landlords of apartment complexes to present tenants with verifications of employee background checks to give them peace of mind the people working in and around their homes are trustworthy.
  • March 08 Police officers working with the University of Texas at Arlington recently arrested a man who had avoided police capture on a warrant out of Oregon for nearly two decades. The man, whose real name is Daniel Charles Ray Hanson, spent those 17 years using a variety of fake names and identification documents to move around the country, often engaging with educational institutions under false pretenses. Police say Hanson regularly went by at least three different aliases. He sports a rap sheet that stretches back to an arson conviction in 1995. 
  • March 07

    The Future of EEOC Guidance in Texas Is Up in the Air

    The EEOC issued guidance in 2012 warning employers about the dangers of enforcing categorical policies to bar candidates with criminal histories. That guidance is not enforceable in Texas thanks to a recent court ruling.

  • March 05 Vermont is the latest state to restrict employers’ access to and use of social media accounts of employees and applicants. 
  • March 01 In an age of "industry disruptors" turning established business models on their heads, companies such as Uber and Lyft rely on a unique workforce of individuals outside the traditional employer-employee context. Uber calls them "partners" while other businesses refer to them as "independent contractors," the official classification these individuals use for tax purposes. Recently, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) revealed they had warned a business, Postmates, for misclassifying their staff as independent contractors. In the NLRB's determination, these individuals were employees.
  • February 27 Governor Asa Hutchinson signed House Bill 2216 which amends the employer’s directives regarding a current or prospective employee’s social media account.
  • February 23 A Texas summer camp is in the spotlight after an unflattering investigation from a local news channel. The case has some parents asking what they can do to vet summer camp programs before enrolling their kids.