Every applicant at a Duluth, Minnesota school must authorize and pass a background check before their first day on the job.
The District’s Background Screening Policy
In May, 2019 the Duluth School District agreed on an updated policy that requires applicants to pass a background check before they can start working. Previously, candidates were screened but could potentially begin their jobs before results were available.
To prevent this, the District revised Policy 4042, which has the goal of maintaining a “safe and healthful environment in the school district in order to promote the physical, social, and psychological well-being of its students.” It stipulates the district will run criminal background checks on all applicants who receive a conditional offer of employment.
The results of each screening will help determine whether or not a person can be hired. No candidate will be authorized to work until a final decision is made based on the person’s qualifications, eligibility and background check results.
These background checks will include a search on national sex offender registries and the Minnesota Public Criminal History website, plus other components as deemed necessary. Policy 4042 clarifies that background checks should also be run on potential school volunteers.
Duluth Schools Won’t User Fingerprint Checks
District HR Manager Tim Sworsky said that schools will rely on background check reports instead of fingerprinting. While he believes fingerprint checks are worthwhile, they also have certain limitations. According to Sworsky, “Fingerprinting is not a bad thing, it just means that there are two individuals with similar names or birth dates, but that could require an additional three weeks."
Fingerprinting only pulls records that are available within the selected state. If a candidate has criminal records from other states, they are not included in the report. By using a comprehensive background check, the district can run multiple state, national and other criminal searches.
What Prompted These Changes
The district started reviewing and updating their hiring policies following an incident at a local High School. A person with a questionable record had been approved as a volunteer. Since this person was not an employee, no background investigation was conducted.
In addition to concerns about volunteers, the district wanted to ensure that no person is allowed to start as an employee before their background check is completed and reviewed. In the past, seemingly qualified candidates may have received start dates before their background results were available. Sworsky referenced this during an interview with a local publication: "The issue about not being able to start employees before receiving their background checks is we can't give them a firm start date, they can't give an offer of resignation to their current employer.”
Sworsky feels that having stronger background screening policies will help bolster security efforts. It also shows the District is performing due diligence to ensure they only hire safe, reliable individuals.
The Importance Of Background Screening
Every employer is responsible for the people they allow to represent them. Bringing on an employee, contractor or volunteer who has a serious criminal record could put your employees, customers and others at risk. By running background checks you are showing a commitment to safety and making informed hiring decisions.
When you’re ready to run background checks, please contact us. Our experienced team will help you create background screening packages that are ideal for any position based on the scope of a job and the candidate’s history. We are available Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.