What is the most important thing when it comes to your child(ren)’s school?
Sure, these all rank up there. But what about safety? We don’t know about you but we think our children’s safety should be paramount whenever they enter a school’s campus. After all, they spend critical hours of their day there, away from us, their parents who are supposed to protect and love them and keep them safe from any harm.
When we send our kids to school we expect that they’ll be surrounded, engaged and motivated by people who value the same things we value as parents. But that isn’t always the case. Our children come into contact with more than just the professional educators, counselors and administrators that a school district employs. In many cases, school districts rely on a roster of volunteers to help them maintain their goals.
The reasons why districts rely on volunteers vary (overcrowding, budget cuts, consolidation) AND, unfortunately, so do districts’ policies on performing background checks on these volunteers. In many cases, districts don’t require background checks on volunteers until something horrible happens. Like this:
*A tutor at Hutchinson High School in Alaska was arrested and is awaiting trial after being accused of sexually abusing a student multiple times.
*A parent says she found out a teacher at a Montana school was a registered sex offender.
Here are some of the most common reasons why districts don’t run background checks on volunteers and why they should:
They think fingerprinting is enough. A fingerprint background check reveals personal data like your birth, names, addresses, employment and arrests. An Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) fingerprint check will provide your criminal conviction history. Fingerprints alone, however, don’t paint the whole picture and can have incomplete or inaccurate information. The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS, of which we’re an accredited agency) reports that 1.8 million workers who were subjected to FBI fingerprint checks in 2012 had faulty or incomplete information in their returns. Plus, a fingerprint check doesn’t include current reports on a person’s use of illegal substances. Only a drug test would prove that.
They think they can’t afford it. What is more costly – performing a background check on a volunteer or getting sued because a volunteer, who, it was later discovered had a criminal record, hurt a child? We think you know the answer. But just in case districts still blame the budget pinch for not conducting background checks, here’s a creative solution that the St. Cloud (MN) school district uses.
They think hiring a background screening agency is risky. The professionals that work in the background screening industry, especially those that are accredited by the NAPBS, are subject to intense scrutiny and rigorous regulations at the local, state and federal level. Aside from hiring managers and HR professionals, there is probably no one else more attuned to the legal rights of prospective and current employees than a background screener. They are fully compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, work in an industry enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, and understand the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s mission. Background screening agencies, are by definition Credit Reporting Agency’s (CRAs), and value the accuracy of the information that they provide to their clients. In fact, their reputations and livelihoods depend on it.
They feel that one-size-fits-all. One fingerprint check won’t provide the necessary information you need to decide if a volunteer or employee is a safe fit for your school. It simply isn’t comprehensive enough when you consider that a school district may need volunteers in a range of positions from bus monitors to coaches, room advisors and mail stuffers. That’s why working with a background screening agency like Active Screening is the best, and safest, solution because we have comprehensive screening solutions that can be tailored to suit your needs. For example, volunteers working in a district’s bus department may need to be screened with our transportation solution or volunteers helping out with flu season might need to be screened with our healthcare solution.
Active Screening believes that we need to do everything we can to keep our kids safe. And, we want to make it easier for school districts to incorporate background checks for every volunteer. There’s no more excuses. For that reason, we have developed an online consultation solution, so you can select the right volunteer background check. Recommendations include criminal background checks, as well as a ”true” 50 states sex offender registry search, with several states that must be searched by ”name-only” as some states do not provide date of birth on the offenders. A social security number verification is included to verify the correct name and date of birth of the applicant and to alert you to possible mismatches between the name provided by the applicant and the name registered to the social security number. A mismatch could indicate that the applicant is attempting to hide his/her true identity.
Let’s all work together to keep our kids safe. Contact us today to learn more about screening opportunities for your volunteers.