It has been almost 7 years since WTHR Channel 13 and the Indianapolis Star did a two-part expose on the gaping holes in the Indiana State Police Limited Criminal History. Channel 13 and the Star pulled 10 names off of the Indiana Sex Offender Registry and 8 out of the 10 convicted sex offenders came back clear. It is hard to fathom, let alone stomach, a failure rate of 80% on a sex offender background check in Indiana. In July of 2009 the State of Indiana eliminated the Indiana Limited Criminal History as an employment background check option for Indiana school systems and began requiring an Expanded Criminal History Check. Too many violent offenders and unsuitable applicants were slipping through the cracks and being hired by Indiana school systems.
So why do Indiana schools continue to rely upon this broken system to conduct thousands of volunteer background checks and grant them access to our children? Money. The state gives school systems free access to the Limited Criminal History. With the current financial state of schools, discarding a free process, no matter how flawed, is not an easy sell to school boards.
However, the bottom line is the limited criminal history background checks in Indiana are still flawed. No matter how tight our budgets are we still have a duty to protect our children from those who want to harm them. So we need to be creative and come up with a solution that provides protection to the children and does not further bankrupt schools.
The Expanded Criminal History Checks require the applicants for employment to pay for their own background checks. What a noble concept. What applicant would not pay $30 for a background check in Indiana to get a job? The same concept can be successfully applied to volunteers where the cost of a comprehensive volunteer background check is nearly half the cost of the employment checks.
So the bottom line is we have not seen much progress with school volunteer background checks in Indiana. The Limited Criminal History is still flawed and full of data gaps and errors. However, the good news is you can do comprehensive volunteer background screening and it does not have to break the bank.
If you are a volunteer organization and would like more information on our volunteer background screening packages click here.
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