School Background Check

Indiana HB 1160/SB 160 School Background Checks Bills

I wanted to give you a quick update and solicit your help on Indiana House Bill 1160 & Senate Bill 160, companion bills that would require schools go through the Indiana State Police and FBI for national background checks.  It would exclude private vendors of which 90% of Indiana schools use a private vendor. There is a critical hearing on SB 160 in the Indiana House Education Committee on Thursday, March 14, 2013 (no time as of yet).

The bills would:

  • Require you to go through the Indiana State Police and FBI. You would not receive a screening report but a letter from the state police that indicates your candidate does or does not have any “disqualifying convictions” under IC 20-28-5-8 (c).
  • The candidate could have felony convictions for theft, stalking, etc.  Or could have misdemeanor convictions.  There are more than 400 misdemeanor and felony crimes in the Indiana code.
  • FCRA allows Safe Hiring and private vendors to report non-convictions for a 7 year period.  Not included in bills.
  • You will not have a screening report to compare against your application.  Now, schools can compare the comprehensive report from Safe Hiring against your application.  If we show a conviction for say public intoxication and the candidate did not disclose it then you might take adverse action based on the dishonesty.
  • Turnaround time for our reports is 3 days.  Schools using current state system proposed in bills indicate 7 days to upwards of 6-9 weeks in August and September.
  • The cost would be significantly more.  We charge $28.  State fee is currently around $45.

What do you need to do?  You need to contact ALL of the following Representatives on the House Education Committee and express your concern with the bill an amendment that would include private vendors.

Please contact DJ Weidner dj.weidner@safehiringsolutions.com or Brigitt Klaum brigitt.klaum@safehiringsolutions.com for sample language or letter.  Toll free 888-215-8296

 

Here is the contact information:

HOUSE - Education Committee

Rep. Robert Behning (R – Indianapolis) - Chairman

Email: H91@in.gov;

Telephone: (317) 232-81

Legislative Assistant: Josh Schlake

Email: jschlake@iga.in.gov;

Telephone: (317) 232-9981

Rep. Rhonda Rhoads (R – Corydon) – Vice Chairman

Email: h70@in.gov;

Telephone: (317) 234-3827

Legislative Assistant: Sam Hyer

Email: shyer@iga.in.gov;

Telephone: (317) 234-3827

Rep. Lloyd Arnold (R – Huntingburg)

Email: H74@in.gov;

Telephone: (317) 232-9833

Legislative Assistant: Blake Weaver

Email:  bweaver@iga.in.gov;

Telephone: (317) 232-9833

Rep. Woody Burton (R – Whiteland)

Email: h58@in.gov;

Telephone: (317) 232-9620

Legislative Assistant: Lex Fay

Email: lfay@iga.in.gov;

Telephone: (317) 232-9620

Rep. Edward Clere (R – New Albany)

Email: h72@in.gov;

Telephone: (317) 232-9648

Legislative Assistant: Matt Elliott

Email: melliott@iga.in.gov;

Telephone: (317) 232-9648

Rep. Dale DeVon (R – Granger)

Email: h5@in.gov;

Telephone: (317) 232-9678

Legislative Assistant: Ben Begines Email: bbegines@iga.in.gov;

Telephone: (317) 232-9678

Rep. Todd Huston (R – Fishers)

Email: h37@in.gov;

Telephone: (317) 234-9380

Legislative Assistant: Joe Jacoby

Email: jjacoby@iga.in.gov;

Telephone:  (317) 234-9380

Rep. Jim Lucas (R – Seymour)

Email: h69@in.gov;

Telephone: (317) 232-9671

Legislative Assistant: Jason Johnson

Email: jjohnson@iga.in.gov;

Telephone: (317) 232-9671

Rep. Jeff Thompson (R – Lizton)

Email: h28@in.gov;

Telephone: (317) 232-9793

Legislative Assistant: Jacob Quinn

Email: jquinn@iga.in.gov;

Telephone: (317) 232-9793

Rep. Vernon Smith (D – Gary) - Ranking Minority Member

Email: h14@in.gov;

Telephone: (219) 980-7120

Legislative Assistant: Anne Hancock

Email:

Telephone: (317) 232-9976

Rep. Kreg Battles (D – Vincennes)

Email: h45@in.gov;

Telephone: (317) 232-9600

Legislative Assistant: Zarah Hileman

Email:

Telephone: (317) 233-5248

Rep. Sue Errington (D – Muncie)

Email: h34@in.gov;

Telephone: (800) 382-9842

Legislative Assistant: Anne Hancock

Email:

Telephone: (317) 232-9976

 

Rep. Shelli VanDenburgh (D – Crown Point)

Email: h19@in.gov;

Telephone: (317) 232-9600

Legislative Assistant: Keri Dattilo

Email:

Telephone: (317) 232-0243

 

 

New Jersey Zero Tolerance School Background Checks for Board Members

school background checksNew Jersey appears to be the first state to mandate school background checks for board members.  I have been following this law closely over the past few weeks because all school board members were required to submit to the new background check law by the end of December 2011. Well, December has passed and hundreds of board members have yet to complete a criminal background check.  The NJ Department of Education is demanding that more than 350 board members step down or potentially face jail if they show up at a board meeting.

The intent of the law is right on target.  There is no reason a board member, who oversees millions of dollars in public money, should be exempted from a background screening policy.

However, the letter of the law is proving to be a bit sticky.  It seems NJ has applied a zero tolerance criminal record policy to the new law.  No school board member shall have a first or second degree conviction.  Basically, they cannot have a criminal record of any kind or at any time.

As of today, at least 12 board members have lost their positions because of criminal convictions.  And who knows, maybe some of the 350 abstainers have something to hide?

Yes, I agree that it is important for school board members to have a criminal background check.  But I also see a couple problems:

  1. The Law is Too Rigid.  What if a board member had a DUI or public intoxication conviction 20 years ago?  Your employment background screening policies are not zero tolerance policies (or they should not be if you want to stay out of court).  The EEOC has given us a model that requires a 3 step approach to using criminal records:
    1. What is the nature of the criminal record?
    2. How long ago was the crime committed?
    3. How does the criminal record impact the position?

Or quite simply, make sure the criminal record creates a business necessity for denying the position.

  1. The Law Lacks Oversight.  The law defers to local school boards to enforce the new school background checks law.  If the state is going to mandate background checks then they should provide oversight and compliance.  Don’t expect organizations to police themselves.

Now, let’s see how the rest of the country responds.  What are your thoughts?  Should we require background checks on school board members?

School Volunteer Background Checks Policy Keep You Up At Night?

school volunteer background checks resized 600Does your current school volunteer background checks policy keep you awake at night?  If you are relying on a cheap “national” database search or the Indiana Limited Criminal History then your sleepless nights are well founded. Honestly, I would not let you babysit my dog if your criminal background check was a cheap database or limited criminal history search.

Hang on. I hear your groaning already.  “You don’t understand how tight school budgets are right now.”

Yes I do.  I feel your pain.  But the truth of the matter is we have to make keeping our kids safe a top priority.

I have spent the past 15 years working to end violence as a detective and consultant so I know how slick, dangerous and committed our enemy is.   People who harm kids seek positions with access to them.

Does that really surprise you?

The economy has handed us a couple years of devastating budget cuts which has shifted our focus to the bottom line.  Believe me, I understand.

However, our enemy does not sleep, take a vacation or go away when the economy falters.  He (or she) has an insatiable appetite that is only satisfied by abusing our children.

So is your gut telling you a free background check is too good to be true?  It is.  The Limited Criminal History for Indiana schools might be free but it comes at a greater cost.   Risk of harm.   That is why the state no longer allows schools to use it for screening employees or contractors.

If you think $10 is too good to be true.  It is.  There is no such thing as a quality background check for $10.  Sorry.  I know, other background screening firms swear a background check can be done for $10.  Baloney.  Ask them to guarantee their cheap search.

The great news is high quality school volunteer background checks can be completed for just a few dollars more.  And there are options that do not impact your budget.

Join us for a FREE webinar to explain how you can take your volunteer background checks to a higher level and sleep better at night.  Register Now.

School Volunteer Background Checks in Indiana

school-volunteer-background-checks-indianaIt 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.

Questions?  Comments?  Feel free to add your thoughts below.