Texas Safe Schools Week: Districts and charters reminded of state's fingerprinting requirements

MGN Online
Wednesday, October 23, 2013 - 8:30am

As part of Texas Safe Schools Week (Oct. 20-26), the Texas Education Agency today reminded districts and charters of the state’s fingerprinting requirements aimed at assuring the safety of all students, teachers and staff in public schools. In 2007, the Texas Legislature passed a law requiring fingerprint-based criminal background reviews for certain school employees.

"The Texas Legislature wisely established a first line of defense at our schools through required background reviews of all individuals who have direct contact with students on a day-to-day basis," said Commissioner of Education Michael Williams. "With this legally-required precaution, parents can know their district or charter places an emphasis on the safety of every student at every campus."

Under the 2007 legislation, school employees required to submit fingerprints for a criminal background check include all certified educators; all substitute teachers and aides (certified or not); non-certified employees hired on or after January 1, 2008; charter school teachers and other professionals (serving in a position that would require certification if they were employed in a traditional school district); and contract employees hired after January 1, 2008 who have direct contact with students.
All employees (both certified and non-certified), as well as substitute teachers, must be fingerprinted before their first day of employment.

Fingerprints acquired by districts and charters are submitted to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) clearinghouse. When a criminal history report is made available in the DPS Clearinghouse, DPS notifies the district by email of the individual’s criminal history activity (if any).

State law requires the dismissal of any employee convicted of certain felonies or who is a registered sex offender. If an employee has a criminal history and resigns or is discharged, the district must immediately notify the Texas Education Agency.

School districts and charter schools must remain diligent in maintaining subscriptions to all their employee and substitute records in the DPS Clearinghouse in order to review all criminal histories and to receive subsequent arrest notifications.

Texas Safe Schools Week is held annually in conjunction with the national America’s Safe Schools Week. To read the Governor’s Safe School Week proclamation, the joint Texas Education Agency-Texas School Safety Center proclamation or to learn more about Texas Safe Schools Week topics, visit the Texas Education Agency website at www.tea.state.tx.us or the Texas School Safety Center website at http://txssc.txstate.edu/.

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