Mar 092004
 
Authors: Jason Kosena

If any person in the state of Colorado wants to work in a public

K-12 school, a thorough background check is one of the first things

to be completed.

Teachers or potential teachers are subjected to a much more

extensive background search, which includes being

fingerprinted.

Volunteers in the schools, however, do not have fingerprinting

done, but a background check is still completed nonetheless, said

Cathy Kainer, a specialist with the PSD Partnership and Volunteer

Program.

“Volunteers get a background check through the (Colorado Bureau

of Information),” Kainer said.

Because the volunteers are never alone with children, the

fingerprinting does not need to be done, Kainer said.

“We have a policy that volunteers need to be supervised by a

teacher or other supervisor when they are working with the

children. They are never alone with them,” Kainer said.

Other activities that volunteers are prohibited from doing with

students are taking them off campus premises, transporting a

student in their private vehicles or spending time with a student,

in the school or out.

Convicted sex offenders must register with the state and city of

Fort Collins. Once a convicted sex offender registers, the school

district is notified by the city, Kainer said.

As for volunteers, PSD hires a local screening company, Premier

Employment Screening Services, to complete the background check on

all volunteers.

Travis Neidert, an account manager with Premier Employment

Screening Services, said the background consists of a search of

more than 3,300 county courts across the country for both felony

and misdemeanor records.

Neidert said most searches are conducted at the state level,

which provides “repositories varying in detail and scope of

information for each state.”

The available data reflects arrest information obtained by

police departments, information on county cases forwarded by local

courts, or other criminal records a state has on a given

individual, Neidert said.

If the PSD asks for a more detailed search on an individual, a

search can be done at the county level. Neidert said a county-level

search is more detailed than the state-level search.

A county-level search provides information on an individual’s

criminal history, including criminal charges, dates and sentencing,

and disposition records. Other more detailed information can also

be obtained by further request, Neidert said.

“If we have anybody come up with some red flags on their

background check then a different steps are taken,” Kainer

said.

If the red flags consist of minor infractions, like traffic

citations or an underage drinking ticket, the volunteer can still

participate. However, if someone’s check comes up with a felony

conviction or a more serious misdemeanor charge, the file in

question is sent to the PSD Personnel Office and a letter is sent

out to the individual asking her or him to come in and discuss the

issue further.

Kainer said a felony conviction does not always automatically

exclude an individual from volunteering in the schools.

“If someone had a felony conviction seven years ago for writing

bad checks, but since that time has been clean, we will consider

them for the program,” Kainer said.

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