Should Teachers Be Required to Undergo a Financial Background Check?

There is trouble brewing in Indiana. In an editorial published Sunday by The Herald Bulletin, the newspaper takes a strong stance against a proposed background check bill that would require more comprehensive background checks of school job applicants.

We love a good debate about background checks. Obviously, we’re a little biased as to the necessity of screening applicants, employees and volunteers, but we’re also open to hearing why someone would take a hard line stance against background checks, or, as in the case of this editorial, some parts of them.

In light of this, we’re going to examine this editorial and see if we can help clean anything up. In the meantime, if you want to read the entire article, click here.

“Background checks of prospective teachers and other school employees are fundamentally important to Indiana families. Children are entrusted to educators several hours a day during the academic year, and parents should be secure in the knowledge that teachers, administrators and school support staff are law-abiding citizens.

However, Indiana House Bill 1068… goes a few steps over the line in attempting to establish more comprehensive background checks of school job applicants.”

Our Take: Yes, background checks ARE fundamentally important. Not just for those who work in the education field, but for everyone, especially workers in the healthcare, transportation, ministry, non-profit, government, and financial fields. People who work near, around, or with children in particular should be held to high standards and parents should feel secure in knowing they are, as the opening paragraph advocates.

“It would require a financial check as well as a criminal background check, and would also stipulate that school employees should be rechecked every five years.”

Our Take: A comprehensive background check SHOULD include a financial check. Credit reports turn up more information than a candidate’s credit history. Aliases are also often uncovered which can allow for a whole new set of information to be uncovered. Financial responsibility, or irresponsibility, can speak to an applicants trustworthiness and reliability, two attributes that are hard to determine by a resume or interview alone.

When it comes to protecting the safety of our children, routine screening of employees shouldn’t be up for debate. Arrests aren’t always disclosed and unless administrators are actively hunting negative information about their educators, they won’t turn up this sort of criminal history without a background check.

“We agree on one point: Indiana sorely needs to upgrade its criminal background check of applicants for jobs at schools. Currently, state law does not require a check of criminal records in other states, nor does it call for standard federal court checks. As a result, a teacher without legal transgressions in Indiana can get hired here despite a conviction for child solicitation in another state. That oversight has jeopardized the safety of some Hoosier students in the past and will compromise others in the future if it’s not corrected.”

Our Take: We agree. This has to change. NOW.

“But the bill should stop there. What need is there for a financial background check of classroom teachers? That seems overly invasive.”

Our Take: Background checks are not invasive, they are, as the editorial earlier stated, “fundamentally important to… families.” If a background screen is fundamentally important, why stop short of running as thorough a report as possible? Most credit checks for someone applying with a school district or educational institution will be considered a ‘soft inquiry,’ although this may depend on the type of position being applied for. These inquiries are like account reviews of your financial situation and can show how you’ve handled your credit over a period of time. This may prove to employers that you are a responsible, hard worker whose been able to achieve a long term goal (pay off a loan), or that you are swimming in debt and may have made some irresponsible decisions (buying a car straight out of college before accepting your first post-grad job).  These character traits are meaningful to employers.

“Yes, check the financial background of those who handle money for the school system. A history of bankruptcies, for example, is an indicator that applicant wouldn’t be competent managing a school budget.”

Our Take: Yes. Yes. Yes!

“Likewise, repeating criminal background checks every five years for employees already working in a school system seems over the top. Administrators should know enough about their staff that criminal charges would come to the surface quickly. Also, mandatory five-year criminal checks would cost schools precious funding.”

Our Take: There are two key phrases in here that we disagree with. The first is “should know.” Of course, in a perfect world, administrators would know enough about its employees that they’d become aware of criminal charges. But this is not always the case, especially for misdemeanor crimes. Don’t believe us? Read this scathing report from Public School Review. Furthermore, even though school districts may be aware of what’s happening behind the scenes, they may not choose to share it with parents. This is wrong, too. Read this editorial from North Dakota to learn about several current examples of trying to sweep teacher wrongdoings under the rug.

The phrase “cost schools precious funding” is also misleading. There are many affordable options to running maintenance background checks. You can learn about the solutions provided by Active Screening here. Additionally, it is perfectly acceptable to ask teachers to pay for their own maintenance background checks to keep their jobs. In some cases, this would cost a teacher just $20 every five years.

“So, it’s clear that House Bill 1068 should be voted down, or completely altered to focus on requiring criminal background checks of school job applicants across all states and the federal court system.”

Our Take: It’s very rare that a bill comes into committee already a winner. That’s the purpose of committees, and, at the end of the day, allowing our elected lawmakers to make decisions about proposed laws. It’s fine to keep tweaking this bill to beef up its requirement of criminal background checks across state lines and include the federal court system. But don’t take away the items that need to be there. They are “fundamentally important.”

This entry was posted in General by Patricia Carlson. Bookmark the permalink.

Patricia Carlson is a content writer who specializes in B2C and B2B inbound marketing. She blogs regularly for clients about the background screening and finance industries, and generates newsletters, white papers and email campaigns for a variety of businesses. Patricia also produces a heavy rotation of editorial material for home design, law enforcement, and family magazines. She’s been writing professionally for more than a dozen years, and for Active Screening for more than two of those. Check out LinkedIn for a roster of Patricia’s clients and links to published works. When she’s not interviewing sources or researching trends, she’s living a fast-paced Florida life questioning the antics of her two young children, partner and mischievous cat. Patricia loves to talk tennis and TV on Twitter – give her a shout @pattycfreelance.

 
        
Active ScreeningBarbara S.
Healthcare Industry

"Here at Holland Hospital, we have been extremely pleased with Active Screening. The report results come back quickly, usually within 24 hours or less.  The staff at Active Screening is easy accessible, knowledgeable and responds to our questions promptly."

Active ScreeningLynn C. Staffing Industry

"Benton Mobley has been and remains my Main point of contact at Active Screening from the beginning; so aside from the comfort of dealing with the same person all these years, there is the most important fact of all;  customer satisfaction. Benton knows the business like the back of his hand; and that is what we need in our fast paced industry of staffing. He is the all-time BEST!  MY employer, Leslie, believes in the notion that great service deserves to be rewarded, so we are here for the duration.We get immediate and personalized attention for any and all concerns we need addressed, and in the staffing industry, this is vital."

Active ScreeningCayce R. Education Industry

"My experience working with Active Screening for our background check process has been very positive.  The reports are almost always completed in a very timely fashion. The information reported appears to be very thorough and accurate.  On the rare occasions that we have questions or problems, the customer service team is always very quick to respond and resolve the issue.  Overall, I am very pleased with the service I receive from Active Screening."

Active ScreeningCraig H. Staffing Industry

"Your customer service is excellent.  The turn around time on background checks is quite fast.  Excellent work.  I haven't had a single problem."

Active ScreeningJackie C. Education Industry

"I wanted to thank you and your staff for being so patient and working so diligently with the Human Resources staff during our recent endeavor to process all of our work study students through background screenings.  We have never had to process so many requests within such a short period of time before, but thanks to you and your staff we made it. Again thank you, we made a good choice in selecting Active Screening."

Active ScreeningLindsey W.  Financial Industry

"I wanted to share my appreciation for your wonderful service...switching background screening companies could have been a stressful task, but your company made the transition seamless. Your website was extremely easy to navigate and the turn around time has been great. I appreciate when information is missing or entered incorrectly during ordering, your company notifies me right away to ensure that my error does not hold the reports results, causing us a delay in hiring an individual...Active Screening has been great to us and I would definitely refer them to others."

Active ScreeningTerry S. Property Management

"Working with Active Screening over the last year and half has been a wonderful experience. They deliver fast and informative results at the best price. Their level of professionalism and the speed they respond to our issues is a benefit that any company can value from. I would highly recommend using Active Screening and their amazing team."

Active ScreeningYulesis D.  Staffing Industry

“Interactive Response Technologies (IRT) has more than 2,000 employees at multiple locations across the United States. IRT has been using Active Screening to conduct criminal background checks since 2006. During this time, Active Screening has consistently returned accurate reports, usually with less than 48 hours turnaround. If there are any problems or inconsistencies with the reports, their staff has called to notify us so that we can attempt to rectify the situation. The staff at Active Screening is always courteous and congenial over the phone. In our opinion, Active Screening is outstanding.”

Active ScreeningAndy N. Software Provider

 "Active Screening has helped us screen our applicants in record time for more than two years.... we are very impressed with the professionalism and speed with which their service team responds to our questions. They understand our needs and are a pleasure to work with. I highly recommend them."

Active ScreeningCassie J. Staffing Industry

"The Active Screening team is very informative; they provided a complete consultation on all the services, so I understood what I needed, and saved me hours and hours of my time learning the various services. Their reputation, as being on the cutting edge of employment screening best practices, certainly held true in this instance. The expertise they brought to the table was invaluable to our understanding of our applicants backgrounds. I highly recommend Active Screening to anyone with the task of screening large numbers of applicants and needing reliable customer support."

Active Screening

With over 20 years of law enforcement experience I can attest to the fact that the strongest predictor of future criminal behavior is a person’s criminal history. As the manager of campus safety at my church, I depend on Active Screening to provide a thorough assessment of every criminal history background check we request. For more than 3 years, Active Screening has been faithful to this task with timely, accurate and reliable service.

Active Screening

We have benefited from knowing that we are not exposing the communities we work with or ourselves to unnecessary risk. We continue to have a perfect record in that we have never had a serious incident with a trip participant causing harm or acting inappropriately with any community member or fellow team member- thank goodness!

Active Screening

I would highly recommend any association or organization who conducts background checks to use Active Screening. In addition to my involvement with WAHA, I am an officer in a corporation with over 500 employees who provide treatment, mental health, and correctional services for children and adolescents. Our company is mandated by law to do comprehensive background searches and I can say with the utmost sincerity that Active Screening product rivals that of any government or other private sector process.

Active Screening

We have used Active Screening and their solution VERITY to screen all our coaches and volunteers working with youth. The online system gives us an easy and cost-effective solution to collecting forms and payments from our applicants...and we simply login to view the results of who passed or failed. It's so easy....thank you Active Screening.