Who’s teaching your kids? Background checks don’t guarantee safety

teacherverification March 1, 2013 0

by Craig Smith


Group sex—with high school students—on school grounds—that’s the charge against a teacher’s aide from Amphi High School.

How do schools try to screen workers before they get close to your kids?

Police say former teacher’s aide Clarice Lee had sexual activity with three boys, while three others watched.

Amphi schools say Lee passed background checks common for most schools including fingerprinting and a criminal background check and reference checks with past employers

Amphi attorney Todd Jaeger told us when Amphi talks to past employers it asks questions focused on whether a job candidate is well suited to work around kids.

Arizona law outlines a long list of offenses that can disqualify someone from working in schools.

Because an investigation is still underway Jaeger did not want to appear on camera. So for a school adminstrator’s perspective we talked with Flowing Wells Superintendent Nic Clement.

He says his district hires very carefully but a clean past and background checks don’t reveal someone’s deepest secrets.

Dr. Clement says, “When you have young children you’ve got to make sure that you have someone that is responsible and mature and knows where to draw the line and knows how to behave.”
KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked: “So if someone has skeletons in their closet, you may have a hard time finding if there’s even a closet.”

Clement: “Yes.”

Employers may check sites like Facebook for clues to your personality.  Employment law attorney Don Awerkamp says your internet trail can be fair game.

“It’s very usable if it’s relevant.  It’s public information; so if you put it out on the internet, it’s available and it isn’t like going into somebody’s home and reading their letters or hacking into their account and reading their e-mails or something like that.”

But Awerkamp says employers have to be careful because what they find on the web is not always relevant.

We saw Clarice Lee’s Facebook when it was still up, and it didn’t seem to show anything drastic enough to disqualify someone from a job.

Amphi tells us it may take a fresh look at hiring practices but it only considers someone’s Facebook, if for example, a teacher allows students to be Facebook friends but then posts content inappropriate for students, like pictures of that teacher drinking.

This article was written by Craig Smith   and originally published on kgun9

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