An examination of laws governing criminal background checks of school personnel in states belonging to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
Gabriel, Gloria Janice
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Because of the need to protect children from persons who should not have access to them in an unsupervised setting, many state legislatures are enacting statutes requiring criminal background checks of school personnel. This study analyzed these statutes in the eleven states belonging to The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). This study found that: (1) The first legislation relating to criminal background checks on school employees was enacted in Louisiana in 1986; (2) currently, ten of the eleven SACS states require criminal background checks on some school personnel; (3) nine states require fingerprints; (4) eight states require a national background check through the FBI; (5) six states require the applicant to pay the cost of the background check, while one state requires the employing agency to pay the cost; (6) five states allow the applicant to be employed pending receipt of the criminal background report; (7) five states prohibit employment based on findings of a criminal background; (8) five states provide for confidentiality of the criminal background record; (9) four states have provisions that allow persons to appeal a denial of employment based on the criminal background record; (10) three states require that the person to be investigated must give written permission for the investigation; (11) three states have statutes that require that state law enforcement agencies must respond to a request for a criminal background request from the school agency; and (12) two states provide penalties for noncompliance of the statute. This study concluded that there is significant variation in the requirements of the reviewed states regarding criminal background checks on school personnel. This study includes recommendations intended to provide more consistent, comprehensive protection of children in the school setting.