Mandatory background checks for teachers advances in House

Posted April 4

NC Flag, Legislative Building, Raleigh

— A House committee on Tuesday approved a proposal that would require criminal background checks for anyone applying for a teaching position in a North Carolina public school or charter school.

House Bill 117 calls for local school boards and the boards of charter schools to use the state Department of Public Safety, a consumer reporting agency or both to check the backgrounds of all teaching applicants. Under current law, school boards decide when to perform background checks, and charter schools must comply with the policy of the local school district.

Some lawmakers expressed concern about the cost of using a consumer reporting agency, but sponsors said school districts have the option of using DPS for background checks, adding that commercial services might be cheaper in the long run for numerous checks.

The bill also would require school boards to inform other districts if a teacher's resignation or firing was related to his or her criminal history.

Last summer, for example, a teacher resigned from Johnston County Schools during an investigation of inappropriate texts between her and a student and went to work for Sampson County Schools with a clean record.

Districts would also have to inform the State Board of Education of such moves related to a teacher's criminal history so the board could investigate whether a suspension or revocation of the teacher's license is warranted.


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