Screening Our Schools: Background Checks on Educators and Non-Educators

school boy with notebook and teacher in classroom

If you have nothing to hide, why would having a background check make so many people nervous? Many argue that background checks are a violation of privacy, especially for those who have been with an organization for many years. But when you are hiring educators, administrative staff, volunteers and other non-educator positions, comprehensive background checks should be mandatory.


Most states require initial background checks to be run on teachers and school aids before employment occurs, while volunteers and other non-education related positions might not undergo a thorough background screening at any point during employment.


With incidents in schools on the rise, it is important to take the proper steps to ensure that safety is the top priority. Background check requirements for those who are not educators varies in each state. In Illinois, all employees of a school district are required to submit to a fingerprint based background check, which screens for youth-based offenses and criminal activity. Individual schools can additionally choose to contact prior employers, education and professional reference verifications for a balanced employment screening process.


When considering if you should only request a county or state criminal check, it is important to know that some states and counties are not required to report criminal activity to the state database, and vice versa. Consider running both reports so that every area is covered. Additionally, while a teacher may be free of criminal charges, it is just as crucial to check the NASDTEC Clearinghouse for misconduct that could have occurred at a prior educational institution.


There are many types of background checks that can be done on individuals in schools, so make sure you are utilizing every database to ensure that the safety of your school is number one.

 
By: Sarah Masa-Myers

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