Top 5 Reasons for Background Checks in Schools

background checks in schools

According to the Federal Government Accounting Office background checks are not required of school volunteers in 32 states; 12 states do not require background checks for contractors who have unsupervised contact with children, and 5 states have exemptions for some employee categories such as bus drivers and coaches.

Failure to conduct background checks on any adult who spends time in your building leaves you open to serious liability.

According to Patrick V. Fiel Sr., Campus Safety, there are 4 things that a background check can uncover:

  1. Cover-ups and lies on applications or resumes
  2. Employment eligibility/legal residency
  3. Sexual offender history
  4. Theft or other financial issues, especially important for individuals working with cash or fundraising
  5. I would like to add a 5th: It’s  important to be aware of other types of past criminal involvement such as fraud, disorderly conduct, assault, battery, and drug charges, even if they were dismissed.  

The knowledge gained by checking will give you the information you need to make much safer decisions.

Back to School Safety Made Simple

back to school safety, school safety drills, tabletop exercises

Back to school safety: It feels like there are a million things to attend to and safety drills are probably not at the top of your list. Should they be?

Well….the beginning of the year is a time when school staff members often talk with students and parents about expectations, rules and policies. Everyone is fresh and ready to learn. Perhaps this is a good time to talk about drills.

Back to school safety. What next?

A good place to start is by walking through a variety of emergencies during tabletop exercises with key staff and emergency responders. Perhaps you did this over the summer. Next, you will want to conduct full-school drills. The type of drills should be rotated and include fire, chemical spill, evacuation, reverse evacuation, lockdown and any other type of drill pertinent to your specific location (flood, tornado, etc.).

The more you practice, the calmer and less fearful everyone will be. We can’t always control what happens, but we can control how we respond. Practicing drills conditions us to behave in a specific way even when our physiology and cognitive capacity are compromised.

In an emergency, stress causes several things to happen to us physiologically. Our fine motor skills deteriorate, followed by our complex motor skills and cognitive processing ability. We lose some of our problem-solving skills, and if our heart rate gets high enough, we may begin to behave irrationally.

Practicing drills exactly as we want to behave in a true emergency will help tremendously. Remember Pavlov’s dogs? A conditioned response is what we strive for in a fire drill. The alarm sounds and we drop what we’re doing and evacuate. We want to do the same for other emergencies, while still allowing for some decision-making on the part of staff if a situation deviates from what is expected. Your back to school safety efforts will go a long way toward keeping everyone safer.