Revised Background Screening for Public Schools

Posted by:
October 23, 2013

On Tuesday, October 22, 2013, the House approved H.R. 2083: Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act. Sponsored by California Representative George Miller, the new bill amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.

State education agencies who receive funding under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, will now be required to have in effect policies and procedures on background checks for school employees. This new measure would also apply to all contractors who provide services with a school, local educational agency, or State educational agency, and whose job duty results in access to students.

The new measure will require school systems to check both state and federal criminal records for all employees who may have unsupervised access to students.

State laws on employment of sex offenders in public schools have varied in the past. Public schools will now be barred from employing individuals who:

1. refuse to consent to a criminal background check;
2. make a false statement in connection with such criminal background check;
3. have been convicted of a felony, consisting of:

  • homicide;
  • child abuse or neglect;
  • a crime against children, including child pornography;
  • spousal abuse;
  • a crime involving rape or sexual assault;
  • kidnapping;
  • arson;
  • physical assault, battery, or a drug-related offense, committed within 5 years of the completion of such individual’s criminal background check;

4. any other crime that is a violent or sexual crime against a minor.

Criminal background checks are to be conducted periodically and updated at least every 5 years.

The chief sponsor of the bill, Rep. George Miller, stated “Keeping children safe is not a partisan issue, it is a moral obligation.”

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