The Critical Role of Background Checks in School Employment

This case study highlights the importance of comprehensive background checks in school employment screening, particularly when potential employees will interact with minors.

ByExpert Institute

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Published on February 6, 2024

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Case Overview

This case study delves into a serious incident involving two minors who were molested by an instructor’s aide at a charter school. The individual had previously been employed by the organization in a different role.

As such, the school did not conduct a formal background check before hiring them for this vacant position. The plaintiff alleges that the school was negligent in its hiring process, failing to complete a necessary background check on the individual.

This case raises serious questions about schools’ responsibility to thoroughly screen potential employees, particularly those who will interact with minors.

Questions to the expert and their responses

Q1

Please describe your professional background in school employment screening.

I earned a Ph.D. in Educational Research, Statistics, and Evaluation, with a specific focus on Title IX and issues related to sexual harassment and abuse within schools.

My work involves providing training and staff development to various school districts. These programs aim to raise awareness and improve investigations of sexual harassment, educator sexual misconduct, bullying, and other forms of harassment within the educational environment.

Q2

What is a school's responsibility to perform a background check on an individual prior to hiring them?

Schools have a significant responsibility to ensure student safety by conducting comprehensive background checks on all potential employees. This process should be mandatory regardless of any previous association or employment history with the institution.

Q3

Have you ever reviewed a similar case? If yes, please elaborate.

Yes, I have been involved in similar cases. In collaboration with the Department of Justice, we conducted an investigation into several schools across five states where incidents of sexual misconduct occurred.

We interviewed administrators and teachers to understand what happened, evaluate existing policies, and identify changes made post-incident to prevent future occurrences.

About the expert

This expert has an extensive background in education and Title IX investigations, with over a decade of experience. They hold advanced degrees in economics, social foundations of education, and educational research, statistics, and evaluation. Currently serving as an adjunct faculty member at a university and the president of an education and training company, they also contribute to a child abuse prevention nonprofit organization's board of directors. Their professional affiliations include prominent societies such as the American Educational Research Association and the National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence Across the Lifespan.

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