Thorough background checks are one of the best ways to ensure that the administrators, teachers, and staff you hire and volunteers for your campus don’t have potentially dangerous skeletons in their closets.
It can also help to stop what is known as “passing the trash,” in which district employees being disciplined for sexual misconduct against students agree to quit if the district will not disclose any incidents to future employers. That allows the person to seek employment with another school district without a black mark on his or her record.
An investigation in 2008 by the state of Oregon found that 47 schools in the state had made a “pass the trash” deal over the previous five years.
State legislators recently took action to help end this practice with a new law requiring both public and private schools to conduct background checks with three previous districts that had formerly employed a potential job candidate.
The new law defines sexual misconduct as anything sexual in nature that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive atmosphere that can hinder a student’s performance. Oregon students and staff will now also receive annual training on how to spot behaviors and language that are signs of sexual misconduct and the process for reporting it.
This is a good law. It should help stop the corrupt practice of allowing one school district to pass its problems to another.
Patrick Fiel is public safety advisor for ADT Security Services and a former executive director of school security for Washington, D.C. Public School System. He also served 22 years in the Army Military Police Corps, where his responsibilities included day-to-day security operations at the West Point Military Academy. During his time with ADT, Fiel has conducted more than 100 television, radio, newspaper, and magazine interviews as a public and school safety expert.
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