Wednesday, August 23, 2006

New York Gov. Signs Private School Background Check Bill

By Jennifer Friedlin
Jewish Week
Wednesday, August 23, 2006 / 29 Av 5766

Gov. George Pataki has signed a law that will permit private schools to do background checks on prospective employees, a move designed to keep sex offenders and other criminals away from students.

Jessica Scaperotti, a spokeswoman for the State Division of Criminal Justice Services, said the law, which takes effect next July 1, will ensure that “all pertinent information is available to parents, guardians and future employers so that they can make the right decision with regard to our children.”

However, unlike the public schools, which must run fingerprints checks on all prospective employees against the FBI’s national criminal history database, the new law will allow private schools, which serve 500,000 students statewide, to opt out of doing the checks.

Supporters of the background check legislation applauded the law, but said concerns remained that the lower standard for private schools could make them a dumping ground for criminals.

Under the law, if a background check shows that a prospective employee has a record, the state Education Department will have to clear the candidate for employment in a private school.


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