Incoming Superintendent Endorse Background Checks Bill

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Incoming Superintendent Endorse Background Checks Bill?

"Parents need every assurance their children are safe at school", says Ronnie Embry with the Indiana State Teachers Association.

A proposal to endorse broader background checks to all Indiana teachers is strongly supported by the organizations of teachers as well as the incoming superintendent of the school.

Jennifer McCormick, the new superintendent's adviser said that she will be supporting the bill that will enforce mandatory background checks to all teachers whether they are new hires or not. The other year, the state has decided to expand the background check scope from a criminal-record search which now include probe for any allegations about abuse or neglect at the Department of Child Services. Once Indianapolis Senator Jim Merritt's bill will pass, the background checks among current teachers will be reviewed over a period of once every five years.

According to Mike Brown, McCormick even wants to widen the scope of the bill. She wants the background check to cover all the staffers who have direct and ongoing contact with the children – which means all the staff working at the school including substitute teachers and even the janitors.

The union of the school is also fully supporting the bill. Ronnie Embry of the Indiana State Teachers Association or ISTA said that the parents need every assurance that their children are safe at school. But both ISTA and Indiana Federation of Teachers would like to appeal the provision that would require the teachers to shoulder the cost of the background checks, which could cost them around 25 to 45 dollars.

Mike Brown says that the teachers will need to pay for the background checks as the payee of the check is the owner of the records. Hence, they need to pay for their own records for legal reasons. The staff attorneys have also advised that it would also be a burden on the school districts part if they will have to take responsibility for those records.

The proposal was prompted by a number of sexual allegations involving teachers which broke scandals in the school system last year. A former counselor of the Indianapolis Public Schools was sentenced this week with a house arrest for the allegations that she had sexual contacts with her students. Last year, a former basketball coach of Park Tudor was also sentenced to prison because of sexting and luring a student into a sexual rendezvous.

The Senate Education Committee has already heard the testimony on the bill that would mandate the background checks for all teachers – both current and new hires. The committee is expected to vote for the bill next week, pushing the bill towards the upper Senate.

Meanwhile, Indianapolis Representative Karlee Marceris is also passing another bill to protect the students from sexual exploits. The bill aims to raise the age of sexual consent from 16 to 18. With the bill, instead of just misdemeanor charges, a criminal offense can be filed against teachers who have sex with students regradless if they are already over 16 years old.


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