Fri, October 14th, 2011 - 5:14 am - By Gordon Basichis
With all the talk about children’s safety and the general concern for their well being, I am always surprise when school boards and public service agencies are reluctant to conduct background checks on their staff and teachers. Many school boards and public service agencies act as if it was some type of insult to ask their personnel to submit to background checks. So the rhetoric about the need to protect our children and the tangible means to do so will often come into conflict.
Of course, once there is a glaringly sensation incident where a school teacher or a staff member attacks or molests a child or for that matter a fellow staff member, the powers that be then do their best to look like they have sprung into action. Too late, of course. Sensational incidents usually encompass subsequent lawsuits and a bushel of public embarrassment. You just hired a creep, even a former convicted creep, who just did something terrible under your watch.
On the other hand, Illinois Orland School District 135 school board members are requesting the Illinois Association of School Boards to adopt a policy for background checks for school board members.While the school board already does mandate background checks for their teachers, bus drivers, janitors, etc, the actual board members are not compelled to submit to background checks. This,I assume, would encompass the background checks for criminal activity, from sexual assault to embezzlement. Chances may be slight, even, but these things have been known to happen.
This request comes at the heels of a similar ruling in New Jersey. In that state, Governor Chris Christie signed into law the statute requiring public school board members must get background checks. The new law disqualifies anyone who has been convicted of certain crimes.