Computer Glitches Delay Mandatory Background Checks

Published: July 19, 2009

Officials for Utah’s Department of Public Safety have run into a few glitches while attempting to perform criminal background checks on 70,000 public school employees, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

Effective July 1, teachers must undergo background checks to renew their licenses. Non-teaching staff, such as bus drivers, will be subject to periodic checks. Additionally, if school workers are arrested, they must report their convictions within 48 hours.

If they don’t report such incidents, they will be flagged by the Department of Public Safety, which is building a database of employee names and birth dates to cross reference against those who are arrested. The database was mandated by law in 1999; however, it was never constructed.

Currently, computer glitches and other delays have thwarted plans to run checks on all current employees. Some districts are slow to turn over employee information to the Bureau of Criminal Identification, while some districts have yet to turn in any information.

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Furthermore, Department of Public Safety officials said it could take a year or longer to fingerprint employees.

On top of that, district administrators are wondering where they will get the funds to pay for fingerprinting. While teachers will pay for some of the cost of their background check with a $69 increase of re-licensure fees, districts may have to pay for the additional costs.

Another area of concern is how to handle employees who have criminal records. For most districts, sexual and violent offenses and some drug and alcohol-related crimes are cause for dismissal. However, it will up to the districts to determine the disciplinary action for classified staff.

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Strategy & Planning Series