Tuesday, February 16, 2016

States do poor job of background checks from out-of-state teacher applicants

Local media and sometimes national media outlets are aggressive in shaming adults accused (not necessarily convicted) of inappropriate interactions with minors, most of all teachers or school employees, and of course pastors and priests. 

USA Today has a “roll of dishonor” story by Steve Reilly, “Broken discipline tracking systems let teachers flee troubled pasts”, link here. A few teachers have resigned after exposure in the article even though not caught by the school districts. 

The article also has a “background check report card”, a map-chart that grades the individual states on doing teacher background checks, especially from out-of-state applicants.  Virginia was in the orange, a grade of “D”.

The private National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification, NASDTEC  is supposed to maintain a database, which is not very adequate, apparently.

It does not seem that substitutes would be tracked, since in many states (including Virginia) they do not have to be licensed.  Furthermore, within a typical system in Virginia, a sub can be “banned” by one school and allowed to work at others (until they miss “three strikes”, which are sometimes covered up).

There’s a colloquial term for all this, “passing the trash”.
I bought a copy of the last USA Today hardcopy at a CVS store a while ago, with only one register open because of a storm-related power failure.  Another man walked in and was looking for the article!  It's online, but Gannett's site loads slowly and has too many frills for people who want the news quickly.
There was no media coverage of any of my issues as a substitute teacher, and no followup (summary  esp. March 6, 2014).  

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