Schools rely on staff to report criminal history

Lauren Williams's picture
Thursday, December 12, 2013

Public schools across the state perform one-time criminal history checks for teachers and other school employees as required by Pennsylvania law, but crimes committed by school staff during their employment may easily go undetected. Why?

Pennsylvania law doesn’t require subsequent background checks after employees are hired and most local public school districts say they rely on the honor system. Essentially, it’s up to employees to submit a form to report that they’ve been charged or convicted of criminal activity.

Recently, a 60-year-old Centennial school bus driver was charged with indecent assault involving two young boys. The superintendent said the the man passed the required background checks and pointed out the alleged incidents didn’t occur while the 43-year employee was on the job.

“It wouldn’t have been our procedure to do that (subsequent checks),” said Centennial School District Superintendent Joyce Mundy. “Had we done clearance checks — even six months ago — nothing would have shown up, since he hadn’t been through the trial process.”

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