The importance of background checks is once again in the news. This time, it’s happening in Kansas.
A bill is before the state senate that would require all teachers to undergo background checks. The state board of education is behind the bill. One possible sticking point is the fact that the bill also allows for drug testing.
It seems many current teachers in Kansas never had background checks. Around 35,000 of the approximate 42,000 teachers in the state were already on the job before a 2002 that requires background checks went into effect. The proposed senate bill would require those 35,000 teachers to undergo background checks.
Many school districts in the state already do national background and fingerprint checks. The proposed bill, if made into law, would make it standard operation procedure for the entire state.
One school district member says all school employees would be subject to the background checks, including teachers, school nurses, cafeteria workers, custodians and anyone else who comes into contact with children.
Some people are questioning the drug testing aspect of the bill. An attorney for the Kansas National Educated Association says the results of those proposed drug tests will “end up in the hands of the State Department of Education” and will possibly be available to future prospective employers.
The drug testing in the bill is not mandatory. It would allow for drug testing by school districts if there is reasonable suspicion that a teacher is using drugs or alcohol. The reasonable suspicion policy will be determined by each school district.
The proposed bill would make it mandatory for teachers to be fingerprinted in order to renew their teaching licenses. This would impact teachers hired before 2002. For teachers hired after 2002, nothing would really change for them. Fingerprinting has been part of the procedure for obtaining a teaching license for the past 12 years.