A background check is a procedure used to provide a school district with more information about a prospective teacher's past, professionally and personally. The information gathered is usually restricted to criminal history but may include past employment records, driving records, health and medical records, and other court records. The prospective teacher will likely be required to submit to a drug screening and fingerprinting as part of the process, as well.
A school district's website should include:
- Comprehensive information about its policies regarding conducting criminal background checks of staff employed by the school district.
- The policies should include information about how often criminal background checks are conducted and what procedures the district follows when it learns of past or current criminal conduct on the part of school district staff.
- Disclosure of policies checking on the credentials of the school staff for teaching positions.
National background checks
In 2013, Massachusetts became the last of the states to pass legislation requiring national teacher background checks. Prior to this, the state only checked the in-state criminal history of a prospective or current teacher. Now, however, Massachusetts delves deeper and broader, looking at a person's history in other states for criminal activity. The state will utilize the FBI's national criminal history database for this purpose.
The information obtained from the FBI database is a "listing of certain information taken from fingerprint submissions retained by the FBI in connection with arrests and, in some instances, federal employment, naturalization or military service." The information will be available to the superintendent of a district or principal of a school but will be considered confidential.
- Wisegeek, "What is a Teacher Background Check?," accessed January 31, 2015
- The Recorder, "Teachers fingerprinted for national database," July 11, 2014
- MassLive, "Teachers, other school employees being fingerprinted under new state law requiring national criminal background checks," April 8, 2014
- Massachusetts Teachers Association, "An Act Relative to Background Checks," accessed January 31, 2015