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Stricter teacher background checks (new law)

Published (5/30/2008)
By Thomas Hammell
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It will be more difficult for teachers with a spot on their records to slip through the cracks. A new law, effective Sept. 1, 2009, will require school hiring authorities to check with the Board of Teaching to make sure that a prospective teacher has not been disciplined for sexual misconduct. Teachers already undergo a criminal background check by a hiring authority.

Information on sexual misconduct will now be provided, whether criminal charges were filed.

Schools will be able to hire an applicant pending that check and to dismiss that person, but will have to tell them the reason for the dismissal. Applicants will also be required to provide information on any legal or disciplinary action taken against them.

The law, sponsored by Rep. Karla Bigham (DFL-Cottage Grove) and Sen. Kathy Saltzman (DFL-Woodbury), includes “comfort” language to another law (HF2782/SF2369*/CH275), also sponsored by Bigham, which requires background checks for coaches and directors of other extracurricular activities. Bigham said the new language makes it clear that the law does not apply to volunteers for activities like school dances. This provision takes effect Sept. 1, 2008.


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