14 May Massachusetts Mandates Background Checks for Schools
In the interest of child safety, school districts across the U.S. have required school all personnel to be fingerprinted. Massachusetts became the last state to mandate this type of investigation from all school districts when Governor Patrick signed H. 4307 on January 10,2013.
Fingerprint information will be obtained and then forwarded to the Federal Bureau Of Investigation before hiring. Prior to this legislation, school districts in Massachusetts accessed the Criminal Offender Record Information system to examine the criminal history of a prospective or current employee. The executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, Tom Scott stated that the CORI system was very limiting as they were only able to access a criminal history within the state. The Massachusetts bill will allow school districts to access information on inspaniduals with any kind of criminal activity history, around the country.
Massachusetts state government has partnered with MorphoTrust, an established fingerprinting company for nearly twenty years. There are currently four regional fingerprinting centers with the intention to provide access for inspaniduals to be fingerprinted within a regional distance. DESE Deputy Commissioner Jeff Wulfson has stated “we hope to make the school districts and schools safer”. Fingerprinting systems began operating this month in a number of locations. These are being tested and will be established throughout the state in the coming weeks. Applicants will be responsible for the fingerprinting background check fees, which will be $55 for licensed teachers and $35 for school district employees.
Boston Public Schools is awaiting confirmation to utilize the new background check system. Implementation will begin with fingerprinting new and potential employees and gradually continue background checking existing staff. The entire process may take up to three years. Boston Public Schools spokesman Brian Ballou stated; “We’ve always wanted the ability to do deeper background checks, and we’re glad that we will now have the tools to do so. The district’s highest priority is to provide a safe atmosphere for all of our students and staff and we believe that this measure is a valuable tool towards ensuring that.”