So, what is a background check? There are many kinds of background checks carried out for various reasons. The specific type discussed in this article is an employment background check — employment can be paid or volunteer — and is the compiling of public records associated with a person’s criminal or civil history.

As an educator, administrator or employee of a school district, you more than likely were subject to a background check. It may have been a fingerprint or name-based check. But it’s important to understand that not all background checks are the same. Due to different regulations, policies or budget concerns, your school district may not be performing the most reliable screen. Why does this matter to you? You are responsible for the safety of students and others.

Not all background checks are the same, ask yourself why it matters. It matters because bad background checks can lead to individuals accessing your schools as an employee or a volunteer. Not all offenders should be blacklisted; however, certain past crimes should preclude an individual from access to kids. What happens when that person commits a new crime; one that could have been prevented?
How can you be a voice for one less victim? Consider screening as an opportunity rather than an obligation. Stop simply checking the box, and think about how you can enhance your screening, which in turns enhances the safety of your schools. Talk to your board, legislators and policymakers about the gaps and deficiencies in mandated types of screening like fingerprinting.
If budget is the issue, then there are alternatives like self-pay for volunteers — you ask parents to pay for so many other less important things. Bottom line thinking about safety issues can result in tragedy. After something happens is not the time to make changes. By then it’s too late. Asking yourself and those that make the policies critical questions about screening is the first real step to being a voice for change. Heroes aren’t always the ones arriving after the disaster. Sometimes heroes are the ones preventing them from happening. Be a hero today; stand up for better screening in your school.
Beth Osborne is the Director of x


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