Lack of Background Checks Causes Brockton, Mass., School Official to Retire

Students, volunteers, and staff may balk at background checks, but a recent string of incidents in Brockton, Mass., displays why regularly screening all school personnel is necessary.

According to The Enterprise, the director of Human Resources for Brockton Public Schools recently decided to retire as the result of a district-wide background checks controversy. The district’s superintendent provided misleading information to the state about background checks, and the district did not follow the state’s policy of screening teachers every three years.

The controversy appeared to start with a group of tutors that were not screened. One of the tutors in an elementary school was arrested recently on rape charges.

Part of the lack of background checks seems to result from the district’s recordkeeping. Up until the present, the school was using an outdated paper system. As a result, however, the district decided to improve the situation by bringing in new leadership and using an electronic database.

Considering the extensive background checks even for school volunteers we saw a few weeks ago, not checking school staff is an appalling and irresponsible practice. Not only did Brockton Public Schools not comply with state laws but they put their students at risk as well.

At the same time, not screening staff of any kind is puzzling. On many occasions, we have seen teachers needing to go through extensive background checks, ones that often start with fingerprinting and include checking national criminal databases. Having state and county screenings of all candidates is the least Brockton Public Schools could have done.

In this day and age, when it seems that nearly all teachers and volunteers are investigated, does the Brockton Public Schools’ lack of background checks surprise you? Or, with the recent slew of budget cut-related news in several states, does it appear inevitable in a small city likely short on funds?