Teacher Background Checks: A Necessary Precaution To Protect Children
Consider this scenario: you are placing your child in the care and oversight of a total stranger, someone to whom you are not related, nor have personally selected to supervise your child five days per week.
Unlikely? Not if you have–or plan to–send your child in to any type of scholastic environment under the supervision of a teacher.
Considering the role that these ‘strangers’ play in the lives of children, it’s little wonder that these days employment-related teacher background checks are quite commonplace. Of all the forms of employment screening, only teacher background checks help to ensure that the ‘strangers’ charged with overseeing children have the character required to provide a safe environment within which students may learn.
So, for obvious safety reasons, teacher pre-employment background screening would, on the surface, appear to be a ‘given’; however, as educational regulations vary from state to state, the rules governing teacher pre-employment screening also tend to vary depending upon the location. Although the principles involved with teacher background checks may remain constant, it’s imperative to be aware of the many variances in regulations in order to adhere to your state’s regulatory requirements.
Ohio: A Case Study In Teacher Background Checks
Across America, there are of course many differences in the laws governing teacher pre-employment screening.
For example, take the case of Ohio: that state has laid out very clear rules that state that “all individuals must have a baseline Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) as well as FBI criminal background check” when they apply for their first educator’s license in the state; in addition, those checks must be no older than one year in order to be considered valid.
As an additional precaution, the Ohio law also requires FBI teacher background checks take place every five years after the initial check. The responsibility for teacher pre-employment screening in Ohio is also a shared one; it is both the educators’—as well as their employers’–responsibility to ensure that the law is followed with regard to obtaining required updated background checks; under the law, checks must be received within the five year timeframe, even if the expiration of a background check does not always coincide with the expiration of the license.
Regarding the question of cost, unless a local Ohio district has made provisions to pay for the background checks–which is not usually the case–the educator or school employee is responsible for the cost of that teacher background check.
Different States, Different Laws on Teacher Pre-Employment Screening
One of the biggest challenges faced by a teacher background screening company—or anyone conducting a teacher background check—is the fact that the laws governing the procedure vary every time you cross a state line.
In Illinois, for example, all public school districts must conduct criminal background checks of all certified and non-certified applicants. The Illinois statutes specify that a “board of education” or “school board” will not “knowingly employ a person for whom a criminal history records check and Statewide Sex Offender Database check has not been initiated.”
That obviously doesn’t leave any room for uncertainty as to the intent of the law.
Meanwhile, in Texas the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) requires all applicants to submit fingerprints for a national criminal history background check.
National Consensus: The Necessity of Teacher Background Checks
Though specific state laws vary widely, in general terms, the current national consensus among states is that teacher pre-employment screening is now a mandatory part of the hiring process.
No matter their geographic location, job applicants for teaching positions—as well as school boards and districts—are all directly affected by the state laws governing teacher background checks.
That’s why both educational professionals, as well as those that employ them, should acknowledge that whether it’s in the classroom—or en route to employment in that classroom– “knowledge is power”.
Long before the teaching process can begin, all affected parties need to familiarize themselves with their unique state laws governing teacher background checks, and proceed accordingly.
Pre-employment testing and pre-employment screening are essential for hiring success throughout the education industry. We specialize in:
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Primary School Teacher Screening Checks
Secondary School Instructor Pre-employment Checks
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