Schools Can Do More to Prevent and Detect Sexual Predators in Schools
“Schools typically perform the bare minimum, one-time criminal history checks for teachers and school employees mandated by state law. Red flags in the employment history of new applicants often go undiscovered, and crimes committed by school staff during the term of their employment can easily go undetected,” says Kenneth S. Trump, President of National School Safety and Security Services, a Cleveland-based national school safety consulting firm.
Trump says schools needs to take several steps to better protect students including:
Identify the limitations of current criminal history checks (geographical areas covered, limited to only a select category or categories of school employees, etc.) and pursue criminal history checks which cover the widest available databases and requires checks of all employees.
Go beyond minimum requirements of criminal history checks by conducting more detailed background checks which also look into employment history, past work performance, educational credential verification, and similar more detailed personal histories.
Conduct periodic criminal history checks of school employees during the course of their employment.
Establish policies requiring school employees to report any arrests for crimes to their school district employer within 24 hours of such arrests.
Providing training for staff and students, and create a school culture where students and staff are feel comfortable in reporting to school officials and police known and suspected inappropriate employee misconduct.
Establish a clearly identified process for intake of complaints of employee misconduct and create an investigation process which is fair, objective, and thorough. Notify law enforcement in a timely manner when allegations involve alleged actions by an employee which would constitute a crime.
Avoid “passing the trash” – a long-time unwritten practice where school officials let suspected problem employees resign in exchange for no adverse records placed on the file and no “bad references” when others inquire.
Trump says the vast majority of educators and support staff are professionals who are genuinely concerned about the well-being of children and, who find sexual predators and the taking advantage of children to be appalling. Steps must still be taken, he said, to root out those few persons who do harm to children.