We have been fielding a steady stream of questions about the Indiana Expanded Criminal History Check over the past few months and realized it made sense to publish some of these answers since the questions seem to be the same. Here are the questions we answer most frequently: Do we have to search all counties of current and past residence?
Yes. We have conducted more than 40,000 Expanded Criminal History Checks and only a small percentage have required adding additional counties. However, we have had numerous schools opt against doing a county criminal search in a county that has a court access fee. This is extremely risky on two levels. First, the state law requires the search regardless if there is a fee. Secondly, a candidate could have criminal records in this county. Here are a couple examples:
- School declined a search in VT because of a $15 court access fee. The search was ordered inadvertently and revealed the candidate had lived in VT until 2010 and had a pending felony warrant for Identity Theft.
- School declined a NY search because of the $65 court access fee. A concerned parent and probation officer, contacted the school to alert them that a coach (this candidate) had felony drug convictions in NY and had his probation transferred to Indiana when he moved.
Is it worth the risk of missing a criminal record or violating state law to save the applicant a few dollars?
Are we required to screen our vendors & contractors?
Yes. If the school contracts for services and the contracted employee will have “direct, ongoing contact with children.”
Are we required to conduct Expanded Criminal History Checks on all of our existing employees?
No. The law does not require this. However, it does allow for a school district to charge an applicant for an expanded criminal background check every 5 years. There is nothing that prevents a school from conducting background checks more frequently, however, the school would have to pay for them.
Does it make sense to screen existing employees? Absolutely. You have employees that have never had a background check. Employees who have only had a limited background check. And we know that a background screening report is history the minute it is complete. They could get arrested the same day the report was completed and it will not show up.
Are we required to conduct Expanded Criminal History Checks on volunteers?
No. The law does not require an Expanded Criminal History Check on volunteers. However, there are 2 important points to consider. First, if we know that the Limited Criminal History is ineffective, can we rely on it to keep our children safe? Secondly, if we use a lesser standard for volunteers, we expose ourselves to legal risk if something happens. An attorney will argue that we were not doing enough since we use a deeper search for our employees and contractors.
I hope this clears up some of the gray areas of the Indiana Expanded Criminal History law. If you need more information on implementing a volunteer, contractor or existing employee screening program, please contact us today.