How to Run a Background Check on School Employees 7 Sep 2018


M.I.T. learned a hard lesson about school employee background checks when it discovered that their Dean of Admissions had lied about her credentials. Because the former Dean had applied for an entry-level position that didn’t require a college degree, no one verified her education. This mistake eventually led to M.I.T. promoting someone to the position of Dean of Admissions who didn’t even have the necessary college degree.

This mistake could have easily been avoided if M.I.T. had verified the Dean’s education. With scandals like this and a growing concern about school safety, it’s clear that schools need to make sure that their employees are properly screened.

In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of running background checks on school employees, the right types of background checks to run, and how to legally perform background checks.

Running the Right Background Check Protects Your Students and Your School

Everyone wants children to be safe in school, but people tend to focus on the threat of outsiders. But in reality, children end up spending most of their time with teachers and school staff. Because children spend so much time with these people and often trust them, it’s vital that school staff are safe, responsible hires.

In addition to children’s safety, you also need to consider the quality of the education they’re receiving. Teachers should have the proper credentials and qualifications in order to teach their students effectively. You wouldn’t hire someone as a mathematics teacher just because they aced their high school algebra. Instead, you would hire someone who has a strong understanding of the subject matter and knows how to answer student questions, grade their abilities, and prepare lectures. Not making the right hire can lead to many problems, like a high turnover rate for teachers and poor student results. Therefore, running a background check on any potential teachers will show you if they have a license or a degree and will help you avoid a bad hire.

Running background checks can also help schools avoid potential financial and staffing issues. The federal government requires schools to run certain background checks on employees. And some states require additional background checks be run. Failing to perform these checks can mean a loss of funding or even people losing their jobs.

The Background Checks You Need to Run to Keep Your Students Safe

Teacher helping young students with schoolwork

To keep your students safe and ensure they get the proper education, it’s essential to make sure the people around them are safe. Below are some basic background checks that should be done. State and federal laws may require more for certain schools depending on location and what kind of school it is.

  • Criminal background check. Criminal background checks can ensure that the job applicant hasn’t been convicted of violent crimes or crimes related to children. Many times, people who have been convicted of child abuse, neglect, or kidnapping aren’t allowed to work in schools to protect the student body.
  • Sex offender list background check. Sex offender background checks can show whether the job candidate is a registered sex offender. Running this background check protects children from sexual predators that may only be interested in the job because of easy access to children.
  • Employment and education verification. Checking a job applicant’s employment history tells you whether the person is being truthful about their previous workplaces and if they have experience with certain job duties. Checking their education shows whether they have the needed skills and knowledge to teach.
  • Teaching license check. For a person to legally teach, they must have an up-to-date teaching license. Checking to see if the job applicant has a teaching license keeps your school out of legal trouble.

How to Stay Legally Compliant

Due to the sensitive information involved in background checks, they are highly regulated by federal and state laws. Unfortunately, many companies have been sued because they didn’t follow proper procedure. For example, Target was recently sued because their criminal background check process was judged to be discriminatory against different races.

Federal background check laws are relatively standard, but because the requirements of each state are different, it’s crucial to know what your state requires for background checks in the education industry. Complying with background check laws keeps your school out of legal trouble.

To comply with laws regarding background checks, it’s useful to find a company that performs background checks correctly. They can advise you on when you can run a background check, how to obtain permission from the job applicant, and they can run the background check for you.

Trusted Employees performs compliant background checks in many ways. One way is by understanding the laws and regulations for background checks by state and by industry. Trusted Employees also strives to educate their clients about background checks, and to help them decide what background checks they need for their unique situation.

The Right Background Checks Can Keep Everything Running Smoothly

M.I.T. made a huge mistake when it promoted someone without checking their credentials. Fortunately, nobody else has to make that mistake again. In this article, we’ve learned why it’s important to run background checks on school employees, what background checks should be used, and how to stay legally compliant while running background checks.

Need help running a background check? At Trusted Employees, we offer customizable background check packages that can be tailored to your industry. Contact us today to learn more.