State Law Now Requires Fingerprint Identification for All School Personnel

By Mitch Evans

SC-NewsIn January 2013 a new law was signed by Governor Patrick, which specifies that all Commonwealth public, private and parochial schools, including approved private special education schools and childcare facilities, must expand their background checks to include fingerprint identification.  At the School Committee Meeting on June 3, Superintendent Jon Sills explained the impact this will have on Bedford school personnel.

Currently, a state Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) check is performed on all employees and volunteers, at least once every three years. However, this new policy will mean a more thorough cross check will be carried out against the state and national criminal records databases, which can only be performed using fingerprints.  Therefore, all existing and newly hired school employees, including teachers, classroom assistants, student teachers, maintenance personnel, lunch time staff and bus drivers, who work in the schools and may have direct and unmonitored contact with children, are required to complete the new fingerprint-based background checks.

There is no fee associated with the current CORI checks. But all school personnel will need to pay between $35 and $55 for this more up to date security verification. Parent and community volunteers will continue to be required to submit to state CORI checks but the decision to further request fingerprints will be a discretionary one, based on their level of involvement and the amount of time spent with students. Given the large number of employees to be fingerprinted, state officials have decided that school districts should first begin with those hired for this school year, and that the remainder of employees can be completed by the beginning of the 2016-17 school year. Surprisingly, Massachusetts is the last state to fingerprint school employees in order to check for past criminal activity.

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