When hiring, using a criminal background check for schools is a well-accepted best practice. Just as any other employer might seek to understand whom they are about to hire, schools undertake due diligence to prevent potential harm to the children under their care. It's not only because parents expect schools to take these steps. In virtually every jurisdiction, schools face a legal requirement to conduct background checks before hiring teachers, volunteers, and others.
Is that measure sufficient for the long term? The answer is a strong ‘no’.
Just because someone has a clean criminal record at the time of their initial school or preschool background check does not always mean that will be true. Likewise, someone who may not exhibit any red flags before hiring could still engage in wrongdoing on the job. This latter threat is why so many schools have strict policies about supervising children and guidelines for appropriate behavior.
However, enforcing policies and watching over on-campus behavior is only one part of the solution. Going beyond the basic background check for working in schools demands a smart, calculated approach to ongoing criminal monitoring. New pending charges could reveal that they would pose an unnecessary risk if allowed back on campus. In other words, school districts need access to tools that will alert them to any change in a teacher or critical volunteer's criminal status.
Using a school background check doesn't have to be strictly for employees or volunteers. On-campus visitors can pose potential risks to students, too. It is also essential to have a system to vet and monitor these individuals if necessary. Consider the system in place in states such as Arkansas and specifically a district in Hot Springs.
Arkansas classifies sex offenders into four "levels," with Levels 1 and 2 representing low risk with Levels 3 and 4 representing high to severe risk. State law says that parents who are level 1 or 2 offenders must be allowed on campus for school-related activities. However, the school requires all visitors to check in at the front office to understand threat levels and respond appropriately.
They use an instant background check service to verify someone's offender status. Those with clean reports can go about their business. Others receive a specific hall pass and must be accompanied into particular areas by an administrator, or they may be asked to leave.
With the right tools from an experienced reporting provider, it's possible to strengthen the criminal background check for schools further. Such a system leverages the power of instant vetting tools to provide continuous monitoring for those entering the school campus. As schools nationwide work to fight against abuse on campus, this level of risk management provides a smart example that many other districts could follow.
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