Kansas' Criminal Background Check for Schools Falls Short

Kansas Medicaid Audit Reveals Shortcomings in Criminal Background Checks for Schools

Schools provide more than education for many children. They are also home to many supportive resources that aid childhood development, including healthcare support. Federal funding from the Medicaid program helps to pay for therapists, caregivers, and others who spend time on campus helping children with health and development-related issues. A recent audit of such a program within Kansas revealed troubling shortcomings in the criminal background check for schools with such caregivers.

What Did the Audit in Kansas Reveal?

According to the Kansas Medical Inspector General, each of the state's 287 school districts has about 13 licensed individuals providing Medicaid-funded services on campus. The IG randomly selected 17 districts for an audit initially aimed at exploring the effectiveness of spending. However, along the way, they uncovered a disturbing fact: many licensed personnel had no background checks.

No state-level statute mandates background screening for school employees, even though the state's Department of Education nominally has a requirement to do so. The state only mandates a childcare criminal background check for licensed facilities. As such, many caregivers have fallen through the cracks. The IG estimated that as many as 30% of the state's entire Medicaid-funded school staff might have evaded screening—creating disturbing abuse risks.

The Kansas State Department of Education says that's no problem. According to them, their "RapBack" program, a form of continuous criminal monitoring, would immediately alert schools to new issues in a licensed teacher's background. However, that does not solve the problem of vetting individuals before allowing them access to children. RapBack also may not cover non-licensed school employees, such as custodial staff, athletics coaches, etc.

The Importance of Regular Teacher Background Checks

In response to the audit, the Kansas attorney general announced renewed support for an effort to require background checks every five years for teachers. Such a requirement would be similar to those for childcare background checks. The Inspector General found several cases where individuals did not undergo an updated background screening for over 20 years. Regular checks such as these are the essence of protecting children.

There's no shortage of tragic tales of abuse perpetrated against children by coaches, teachers, and other school staff. Background checks can't guarantee preventing such incidents, but they provide essential information for assessing and evaluating risk. Such steps are crucial for on-campus caregivers who may have one-on-one and unsupervised access to children.

A crime someone commits in one district might drive them to seek employment elsewhere. Without consistent and regular screening, dangerous individuals could enter positions of authority. Background checks at hiring and continuous monitoring throughout employment are non-negotiable.

Keeping Screening Results Up to Date With backgroundchecks.com

Vetting teachers requires speed in an industry where staffing shortages pressure districts. At backgroundchecks.com, our instant criminal record search solutions provide speed and ease of use to school districts. Indeed, we even offer special packages tailored to the needs of educational organizations. When rapidly reviewing a candidate or current teacher's background report, you can identify red flags and take appropriate action—or develop confidence and peace of mind.

As Kansans push for a mandatory criminal background check for schools, districts nationwide should take note of concerns about teacher safety. Developing a solid policy and empowering it with the right tools can create a safer environment and instill more confidence in parents. For educational administrators, now is the perfect time to review your policies and question whether there's more work to do.

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Michael Klazema

About Michael Klazema The author

Michael Klazema is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based backgroundchecks.com with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments

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