Kansas requires criminal background checks for teachers and principals, but not for school bus drivers, teachers’ aides and many other employees.
About a week ago, Topeka police arrested a local man wanted in Texas on child pornography charges. The private company that employed the man to drive public school buses said he had cleared a national criminal record check.
Doing that check was going above and beyond what is required by state laws and regulations. According to the Kansas State Department of Education, Kansas regulations include checks for history of alcohol and drug abuse among would-be school bus drivers, but don’t call for criminal background checks. Nor do they include criminal checks on other non-licensed workers — also called classified staff — such as secretaries, para-educators and lunch personnel.
While teachers must submit fingerprints to the Kansas State Department of Education for a criminal check conducted by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, school districts can choose whether to check the backgrounds of classified employees.
It is possible that many districts do so.
A representative for the Kansas Association of School Boards said Friday his association doesn’t have an estimate of how many of the state’s 286 districts conduct such checks, but that these checks aren’t uncommon and appear to be normal at larger districts.
Four local districts contacted by The Topeka Capital-Journal — Topeka, Seaman, Auburn-Washburn and Shawnee Heights — said they check criminal records of prospective nonlicensed employees.
All four said they check applicants against a national database. Other details of their procedures varied, with Auburn-Washburn, for example, requiring additional fingerprint checks for some specific jobs and Shawnee Heights not asking for fingerprints, but rechecking criminal backgrounds of ongoing employees on a rotating basis.
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