Remove background check loophole for school employees

A lawmaker in New Mexico has said that there are thousands of employees in the schools across New Mexico who have not undergone through a background check. The lawmaker is looking forward to make changes, on what he described as a 'loophole'.

According to R-Albuquerque Rep. David Adkins, because of a loophole in the grandfathered state law concerning school employees who were employed before the 20th of May 1998, some of the school employees were able to bypass the required background check.

Now, Rep Adkins is rallying a bill proposal for this session that aims to address the loophole and mandate all of the school employees to undergo a fingerprint background check - regardless of the date that they got hired.

Rep Adkins has stated that he is not just referring to the school teachers. He is also talking about all the employees who are working at the school district which means, it includes the janitor and even the school's lunch employees.

He said that the district may opt to shoulder the expenses associated with the background check. Or, the employees can shell out approximately $75 from their own pockets. The lawmaker wanted to point out that they just wanted to make sure their children are safe and that it is also for the parents' peace of mind, knowing that their children will be safe at school.

Based on the proposed law, the school districts will also get a notification in case one of the employees of the schools are found to have committed previous crimes. That is how the present system works for those employees who have gone through the background check already.

Meanwhile, Hanna Skandera, the Department Secretary of Public Education has expressed her support to the proposed legislation. In the latest data, gathered from about a year or two years ago, Rep. Adkins said that up to 8,000 school employees across the state have not gone through the necessary background checks. However, a few districts like the Albuquerque Public Schools have since implemented the necessary background checks.

Albuquerque Public Schools have conducted background checks on all of its approximately 2,300 employees, who were supposed to have been exempted already because of the grandfathered law. The background checks followed after the scandal involving an APS employee. It was found out that unknowingly, the school was able to hire an assistant superintendent who has been involved in a case in another state. The said assistant superintendent had a charge for child molestation which was filed against him in Colorado.

Schools must be a safe place for every students to learn and to play, and it goes without saying that teachers and school administrators play vital roles to ensure that safety. While the background checks, just like drug tests, can be very helpful to prevent the same crimes from happening again, still, the bill proposed by New Mexico Rep. Adkins may face an uncertain future.

It can be recalled that the lawmaker together with Brian Egolf, the Speaker of the House have discussed about the same bill last year. However, the proposal ended up as a failure.

Remove background check loophole for school employees