Massachusetts Implements Stronger Background Checks in Schools
January 14, 2013
Conducting background checks on teachers has become more imperative now than ever it seems. In recent months, additional measures have been taken in various states to improve the background screening process for teachers as well as other school employees and anyone else that works with or around children. In particular, the state of Massachusetts has just passed a law with several changes for the background screening process for teachers. Governor Deval Patrick signed a bill that would require a national criminal history background check as well as fingerprint screening for all teachers. The Associated Press reported that State Rep. Alice Peisch also pushed for the changes and said Massachusetts will “no longer lag behind” other states which have already adopted the national fingerprint background check.
The background checks will extend beyond just teachers and the law requires background screening for school employees, bus drivers and subcontractors. According to the press release, “Prior to this law, school districts and early education providers were allowed only to conduct name-based Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) checks covering criminal history record information for crimes committed in Massachusetts.” The law requires that fingerprints will be submitted to the state police for a state criminal history check and also forwarded to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for a national background check. Under the previous law, fingerprints were not required and only a state check was conducted.
One case in particular that pushed this law forward was the case of John Burbine, who was arrested on charges for sexually abusing children at his wife’s unlicensed childcare business in Wakefield. The bill was passed weeks after this case at the end of December.
Implementing a law like this one is an encouraging development as it seems that conducting bare minimum background checks in schools has never been sufficient in any state. According to the Metrowest Daily News, all newly hired teachers, school employees, bus drivers, subcontractors and early education and care and out-of-school care providers must undergo state and national background checks prior to the start of the 2013-14 school year. In addition, all current employees must undergo national background checks over the next three years, prior to the start of the 2016-17 school year.
Read more about these changes:
- Should Teachers, Child Care Workers Submit Fingerprints for Background Checks?
- New law requires national background check for teachers
- Mass. teachers must be fingerprinted