Student Protection Act

Student Protection Act

Student Protection Act


Legislation has been introduced in a number of states to require all final candidate for employment with a school district to consent to fingerprinting and/or criminal background investigations.  In 1984, Congress passed a law providing states a total of $25 million to institute such enhanced protective measures against child abuse in day-care centers.  Over a dozen states took this opportunity to enact background check legislation to screen school personnel and day-care workers.

A recent report by Richard P. Kusserow, Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, indicated that states should consider establishing an employment screening system to prohibit any person formerly convicted of child sexual abuse from employment or volunteer work involving children.

The Student Protection Act requires all person applying for certification or classification as school employees to submit their fingerprints to the state Department of Corrections (or its equivalent) and to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Applicants must bear the cost of fingerprinting and undergo background check,s to ensure that they do not have a record or history of child abuse or any other conduct which makes them unsuitable school employees.

An option is also provided within this model bill to enable states to extend checks to existing employees.

Model Legislation

Section 1. {Short Title.} This act may be cited as the Student Protection Act.

Section 2. {Definitions.} “Employee” means a person working for a salary or wages, or a regularly utilized volunteer, for the purposes of this Act.

Section 3. {Background checks for school employees and applicants.} Each employee of a school district or applicant for employment with the district, including teachers and applicants for teaching positions, as a condition of employment, shall authorize a criminal background investigation of himself pursuant to this Act.  Such authorization shall indicate the scope of inquiry and the agencies which may be contacted.  The school board shall issue to the employee or prospective employee a document certifying that such authorization has been received.  An applicant who has been issued such document shall be eligible for employment if he meets all other requirement for the position, provided that the employment may be terminated if the investigation reveals that he has been convicted of a criminal offense specified in this Act, or he has been found to have knowingly provided material misinformation or failed to provide material information in connection with the investigation under this section.

Section 4. {Fees.} The school board may charge the person who is the subject of the investigation a reasonable fee not to exceed $20 to cover costs related to such authorization and investigation.

Section 5. {request for information.}

(A) Upon authorization by the employee or applicant for employment as provided under this Section, the school board shall request information from the FBI and the state or local agencies which maintain that information.  To the extent feasible, state and local government agencies shall provide the requested information to the board.

(B) Upon request of the school board, the state Department of Corrections [or other appropriate agency] shall provide the school board with information showing that such person has been convicted of committing or attempting to commit any of the following offenses as defined in the state criminal code [insert citation of appropriate section in criminal code]:

1. murder;

2. a sex offense;

3. kidnapping;

4. aggravated kidnapping;

5. child abduction;

6. aggravated battery of a child;

7. criminal sexual assault;

8. aggravated criminal sexual assault;

9. criminal sexual abuse; or

10. aggravated sexual abuse.

(C) The state Department of Corrections [or other appropriate agency] may specify the manner and form in which the school board is required to request the information.

(D) The state Department of corrections [or other appropriate agency] shall determine and report its conclusions regarding any finding that the employee or prospective employee has been convicted of an offense in any other state, the elements of which are similar and bear a substantial relationship to any of the foregoing offenses.  The state Department of corrections [or other appropriate agency] shall, when it deems necessary for the conduct of its investigation, request that the employee or prospective employee submit his fingerprints to that Department in accordance with procedures it may prescribe by rule.

Section 6. {Report of findings.} The Department [or Agency] shall inform the board of the results of the investigation of an employee or prospective employee.  The information derived from the investigation conducted under this Act, including the sources of such information, shall be provided to the employee or prospective employee within a reasonable time after the information is received by the school board.

Section 7. {Confidentiality.}

(A) Any information concerning the criminal history or criminal convictions of an employee or prospective employee shall be confidential and exempt from public inspection and copying, and such information shall not be transmitted outside the board other than to the state Teacher Certification Board in relation to the certification of such employee or prospective employee.

(B) All information concerning criminal histories and convictions obtained by the state Teacher Certification Board under this Act shall be destroyed no later than 60 days after the Board has made a final determination regarding the status of the employee or prospective employee, and all rights of appeal have expired and pending appeals have been completed.

(C) The only physical identification materials which the employee or prospective employee may be required to provide to the school board are photographs and fingerprints.  Upon request to the school board, such materials shall be returned to the employee or prospective employee after the investigation has been completed.

(D) No copy of such materials may be kept by the school board or any agency to which such identification materials were transmitted.  Any employee of the school board who provides or causes to be provided any confidential information to unauthorized person concerning any criminal history or conviction of an employee or prospective employee who is the subject of investigation under this Act shall be guilty of a [designate appropriate] misdemeanor.

Section 8. {Renewal.} The school board may require that an employee renew the authorization for investigation required by this Act at least every five years to determine the existence of any conviction for criminal offenses not indicated or discovered in the initial investigation.

Section 9. {Penalties.} An employee shall be dismissed for any of the following:

(A) for refusal to authorize a criminal background investigation required by this Act;

(B) for conviction of any offense specified in Section 5; or

(C) for knowingly providing material misinformation or failing to provide material information in connection with the criminal background investigation under this Act. 

Section 10. {Administration.} The School board may adopt rules and regulations for the administration of this Act.

Section 11. {Severability clause.}

Section 12. {Repealer clause.}

Section 13. {Effective date.}

Source Book of American State Legislation 1987-88