When hiring a senior-level school employee, the districts covered below relied on state-mandated or “one-size-fits all” background check processes. As a result, they unknowingly missed significant records or failed to confirm critical credentials.
The following headlines appeared in media sources across the nation. News articles have been summarized to highlight relevant points.
District Hire Served Time for Stealing; Record Shows Theft From Employer
The Superintendent of a New Hampshire school district learned too late that her recently hired Business Administrator served 9 months in prison for felony theft.
The pre-employment search of the state’s criminal database did not reveal this conviction. The firm later hired to perform business administration duties cost an estimated 2x the salary of the Business Administrator position.
County Principal Arrested At School
Although this school district performed a fingerprint-based FBI national criminal background check, they didn’t know that their new Principal was on probation. Soon after being hired, he was arrested at the school for a 2007 drunk driving charge, which was a violation of his probation resulting from a 2004 domestic violence dispute.
School Official Resigns Amid Sun investigation Into His College Degrees
After the local news discovered that his degrees were from “diploma mills,” the deputy COO of a large urban school district resigned from his $135,200 salaried position. The former official’s bachelors and masters degrees were from unaccredited universities.
One of the institutions gives degrees based on “life experience.”
George Gollin, a board member of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, stated, “It should be a tremendous embarrassment to the school (district) and the person who vetted these things.
New Lawsuit Filed…In New Jersey School District
“How did someone with such a checkered past get hired as the head of the school district in the first place?”
This is the question the community and press were asking when their Superintendent was suspended amid allegations of harassment and violation of civil rights.
It had recently been discovered that their Superintendent–who was initially placed with the aid of a search firm–was the subject of similar civil court charges in a lawsuit that she lost several years earlier.
Investigation Reveals…Asst. Principal Criminal Record
A local news investigation discovered that an Illinois assistant principal had been convicted of theft in 2006, disorderly conduct in 2001, and criminal damage to property/trespassing in 1994.
The district’s HR Director indicated that the fingerprint-based FBI criminal background check had not identified these records.
Following the incident, a letter to a local newspaper contained the excerpts below:
“Dear Editor, I am writing to you to voice my concerns regarding Human Resources ‘employment screenings’ for this district. …Stating that an employee simply ‘slipped through the cracks’ has been abused enough. It is time for those in charge to start taking their fair share of the blame.”
The hiring mistakes in the above case studies were caused by reliance on state-mandated and “typical” background check procedures.
State-mandated screening procedures often rely on incomplete criminal record databases maintained by state bureaus and the FBI. Click here to download our whitepaper on why these databases are flawed.
This can lead to oversights in criminal records – and doesn’t address relevant non-criminal risk assessment that is critical at the executive level.
Some districts also turn to private vendor databases for background checks. A December 2011 Associated Press Report comments on the flaws in typical private vendors’ background check systems:
“…It is a system weakened by the conversion to digital files and compromised by the welter of private companies that profit by amassing public records and selling them to employers. These flaws have devastating consequences… ‘They don’t seem to have much incentive to get it right.’”
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