As a former professional in the field of education, particularly at the University level, I’m no stranger to background checks. I don’t mind having these checks done because I think they’re important to have on people who are responsible for educating children. Unfortunately, not all schools do background checks on school employees and because of this, many children are needlessly exposed to criminals. I find this disturbing, since background checks are easy to obtain and the expense is certainly worth avoiding the very real possibility of employing people who can pose a threat to our children. Luckily, more learning institutions are moving towards acquiring these reports with greater frequency, which can only be a benefit to the teachers as well as the students.
Another concern that schools are protecting themselves against are employees who may have demonstrated abusive behavior towards their own children. Even a hint of this type of behavior could prohibit the hiring of the person accused. While I certainly applaud the efforts of the school boards in taking this preventative measure, I still don’t feel enough is really being done.
The background checks shouldn’t be limited to just teachers, but should include anyone who comes in contact with children. This includes janitorial services, the little old lunch ladies handing out food, right down to the school crossing guard. There are all sorts of non school employees that come in contact with the children and their backgrounds, or at the very least, the hiring practices of the companies that employ them, should also be looked into.
Not too many years ago, I applied for an online teaching position at a popular university. Part of the hiring process included my having to submit to being finger printed. I didn’t mind the procedure, but I did regret having to bring my son with me. I had agreed to baby sit that day, so my wife could enjoy a day to herself and get her hair and nails done. By the time I remembered the finger printing appointment at the local police station, she was long gone and I had no choice but to bring junior with me.
If you’ve never been to a police station, I can assure you it is not the place that you want to bring your child. I remember hoping that he would forget about daddy having to be fingerprinted, so he wouldn’t mention it to anyone who might misunderstand. I almost told him not to tell anyone, when I realized that that would just make me seem guilty of something, even though I had nothing to feel guilty about. Background checks are impersonal, requiring nothing but a signature on a release form. Fingerprinting is personal and gives the appearance of guilt. I’ll admit that this bothered me, but not enough to complain about the process. Whatever it takes to protect the children I teach as well as my own child, I’m all for it and will stand behind it.