Audit: Mo. school district should update required types of background checks

January 2005 FingerprintinAfter an internal audit, a Springfield, Mo., school district is considering adding more current types of background checks to its hiring and retention policies, including fingerprinting all long-time employees. According to an internal audit report, fingerprint-based background checks did not become district policy until January 1, 2005, and Springfield Public Schools has not fingerprinted employees that were hired by the district prior to that date. More than 1,000 employees were hired before 2005 that have remained in the school district. Before 2005, the district only conducted name-based state criminal background checks. The audit also found that teachers who leave the district and return within a year are not required to be re-screened. The auditor, Wayland Mueller, requested the district seek legal advice about what types of background checks should be considered in the case of re-hiring. Mueller also recommended that the district conduct additional types of background checks on those hired before 2005, including fingerprinting and criminal history checks. A recommendation on how to go about that process of fingerprinting, which will cost the district approximately $45 per employee, will be made within 60 days. Springfield Public Schools representative Parker McKenna says that the district now does fingerprint background checks on all new employees per Missouri law, as well as checking candidate names against a family care registry. Meanwhile, other districts in the state have other precautions in place to prevent abuse, including requiring background checks on anyone volunteering in the district, and reviewing sex-offender listings. The district audit was requested after Springfield student Hailey Owens was abducted, sexually abused and murdered, allegedly by a football coach that had worked in the district since 1998. Overall, Springfield Public Schools was given a rating of “Effective” according to the audit report, due to the current policies of subjecting new hires to various types of background checks that “meet and exceed” the state’s requirements. For more information about what types of background checks should be done in school settings, contact Mind Your Business. photo credit: Exercise Tradewinds 2009 via photopin cc]]>

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