In January, Massachusetts’ Governor Deval Patrick signed the Act Relative to Background Checks bill into law. This law now allows the school systems to perform national criminal background checks on employees. Previously, employees were only screened for crimes committed in the state of Massachusetts.
In February, a Boston Herald investigation revealed that a man with two previous drunk driving arrests plus multiple breaking and entering convictions was currently employed to drive a van for a public high school. As a result, the Boston area began performing a sweep of background checks on their current employees. The results have been shocking.
The area has 9,000 school workers, and currently one-third of the background checks have been completed. So far, 11 “support” staff” employees (non-teachers) have been placed on administrative leave due to their criminal records. Some of the employees had a history of serious offenses that included: felony kidnapping, drug possession, assault, and unlawful ammunition possession. Of the eleven staffers with previous offenses, none of them had ever been charged with a sex crime.
Prior to this year, a school review board only turned down job applicants who had been convicted of serious crimes. Now, more consideration is being given to those employees who’ve also been charged with a crime, but had a non-conviction. The panel realized some individuals who made plea deals that resulted in non-convictions should be turned away as well.
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