Criminal background checks for schools are the first defense against bad actors in educational and childcare settings. Alongside providing information about those you hire, they are also often critical for meeting various legislative compliance requirements. Proper vetting offers peace of mind to parents, students, other staff, and the public—but what happens when those responsible for screening start cutting corners?
In South Carolina, the director of a daycare center was arrested and charged for outright falsifying background check records for multiple employees. Police also arrested one of those employees after discovering the individual had an active warrant for child neglect that was nearly a year old. That person continued to work in close contact with young children because the director submitted false background check forms.
An anonymous tip to the South Carolina Department of Social Services started the investigation. The unknown reporter claimed that the daycare was employing unsuitable individuals and not correctly following state procedures for mandatory background checks. Upon examination, the DSS determined the director had forged nine background checks. The individuals in question never underwent any of the required childcare background checks.
Although there were no reports of harm in the daycare, the risk level was very high, especially with a recent offender on the payroll. The issue highlights an unusual but notable danger for the administrators of daycares, schools and other institutions: the idea that an employee might circumvent the correct process. Not only can such actions endanger those under your care, but they can lead to serious legal ramifications and government enforcement actions.
A director might feel pressured to cut corners for many reasons. Teacher and daycare worker shortages continue, and lengthy times-to-hire aren't uncommon in states with a mandatory childcare criminal background check process. Especially where state police agencies have mandatory involvement, delays in the government can mean holdups in staffing.
Even so, falsifying records is never the answer: it endangers your organization and those in attendance. It's crucial to clearly understand your state's required background screening for school employees and to train those responsible for the process thoroughly. Those involved should understand the importance of following through with every step, even when it takes time. Reinforcing the consequences of ignoring due diligence can help.
Though teacher background checks may add more time to the process, it is not always the case. Working with a fast, responsive screening service can put vetting reports into the right hands sooner rather than later. Even if you must wait on a state agency, you can always complete other elements of the pre-hire screening in the meantime.
Criminal background checks for schools are a vital safety tool. The embrace of best practices starts from the top down. Directors and administrators must set the standard and the tone for employees responsible for screening and hiring workers. When everyone works together, and you have a compliance-minded screening provider on your side, you can create a safer setting for children under your watch.
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