Article: Criminal-Background Checks

Jason Morris

Historically educators saw their profession as a “gentleman’s profession” held to a higher standard than others.  Above suspicion, they felt background checks were below them and insulted by the gesture.  We have seen similar stories as recent as last month.  This article shows tremendous support for the practice and an acknowledgment of previous fears.  We know there is a requirement of accuracy under the FCRA, apparently one experience in their forum was less than stellar.

An article from the Chronicle of Higher Education

Criminal-Background Checks: An article from the Chronicle of Higher Education

Criminal-background and credit checks are becoming a common element of faculty and administrative searches. Many states, and an increasing number of private colleges, are requiring background checks prior to or as part of job offers. My university added them this year, and thus we have been navigating in new waters as we deal with candidates during the offer process.

A certain amount of griping has ensued. One of the clearest vestiges of academe’s history as a “gentleman’s profession” is the idea that we, as academics and holders of advanced degrees, are somehow above suspicion, and thus requiring a background check is insulting and degrades us as professionals. That sentiment is certainly understandable, as the presence of a background check is prima facie evidence that candidates are not being taken at their word.

The paradox, of course, is that only those whose word is not good get caught by a background check. I have been around long enough to know about cases where an impostor has gotten an academic job (easily avoided by the now almost-universal requirement for official transcripts sent directly to the employing institution) or where someone with a criminal record has been hired.

In today’s litigious atmosphere — and, more important, as part of our obligation to students, parents, and other constituencies — transcripts and background checks are a fair way to avoid potential hiring disasters.

However, there is another side of this issue. When an institution has a policy requiring background checks, that policy entails that whoever performs those checks be held to absolute standards of accuracy. A recent case discussed in The Chronicle’s Forums described a candidate’s experiences being offered a position contingent on a background check which later came back with negative information that led to the withdrawal of the offer. The information turned out to be wrong, and it fell to the candidate to correct the record, supplying numerous documents and affidavits certifying the candidate’s innocence. The offer was then reinstated only to be withdrawn again, apparently by the institution’s human-resources office. Why? Because the candidate had protested the negative finding.


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Jason Morris

President & Chief Operating Officer at EmployeeScreenIQ
A veteran screening and risk management professional, Jason Morris founded EmployeeScreenIQ in 1999 and acts as the company’s chief operating officer and president. Morris is a frequent speaker delivering captivating, interactive discussions on background checks, global screening, recruitment and staffing. He educates audiences in best practice initiatives as they relate to organizational employment screening programs. Morris has been quoted in numerous business and industry publications including The Wall Street Journal,, USA Today, New York Times, among others. He is also a licensed private investigator in the states of Ohio, Illinois, New Jersey, Texas, Arizona and Nevada.
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