July 29, 2010
This headline caught my attention this morning while reading our local newspaper, “The Columbus Dispatch:”
Colleges Weigh Student Crimes
Clarett among hundreds of felons admitted to Ohio schools
In case you don’t know, Clarett is Maurice Clarett who led the Ohio State Buckeyes to the 2002 national championship during his freshman year. He pleaded guilty in 2006 to aggravated robbery and carrying a concealed weapon, and served 3 1/2 years in a Toledo prison. On Monday he started taking classes again at Ohio State.
His return to classes has created a lot of buzz, but what really caught my attention was the statement “he’s hardly the only person with a criminal record attending a central Ohio college.”
Here are some interesting tidbits from the article:
- Ohio State University estimates that 30 to 45 people with felony convictions or suspensions from another college apply to the Columbus campus each year as freshmen or transfer students. Of those, about 20 or so make it through a vetting process that ensures they don’t pose a safety risk. They still have to meet the school’s academic requirements, and some give up when they find out they might not qualify for federal financial aid because of a drug conviction. The vast majority have gotten into trouble because of alcohol and drugs. At Ohio State, officials sometimes add restrictions, such as being prohibited from living in a dorm or being required to talk with a campus counselor, for people who have convictions. A few are asked to reapply in a year after securing permanent housing, finding a job or doing volunteer work – or taking classes online or at a two-year school to prove that they are ready for the challenge.”We don’t automatically bar anybody,” said Louise Douce, assistant vice president of student life.
- Columbus State Community College has higher numbers of applicants with criminal histories, in part because the school has open enrollment, said Admissions Director Tari Blaney. Last school year, there were 980 felons among the 31,000-plus applicants to Columbus State. Nearly 400 were admitted, Blaney said. Like a growing number of schools nationwide, Columbus State Community College is considering running background checks for students whose records raise red flags.
- Miami University – Under Ohio law, people who have served time for any of more than 30 violent crimes have to wait a year after being convicted before they can enroll in a public college, said Claire Wagner, Miami University’s spokeswoman. “And if we have learned a student lied about the criminal conviction, we can suspend them for at least a year,” she said.
- Ohio University – Ex-convicts who make it through the vetting process do as well as students without a record, several local campus officials said.”I’ve been doing this for 15 years and only two of the hundreds and hundreds of people with criminal convictions we have admitted have re-offended,” said Nicolette Dioguardi, Ohio University’s deputy general counsel. “People who are truly dedicated to getting their education and improving their lives are generally the most motivated to succeed.”
Most central Ohio colleges ask applicants to report whether they have ever been convicted of a crime or suspended from another school. Those who say yes are asked to provide more information. A committee of campus officials reviews the nature of the offense, when it happened and whether it is part of a criminal pattern. The committee also looks at what applicants have done since being convicted.
Employee Screening Best Practice
This holistic approach is also a recommended best practice for employers when hiring. If the applicant has a conviction, look at the nature and gravity of the crime, the nature of the job, and the age of the crime to determine whether there is a business justification to deny employment. Also, employers should review the individuals entire background – through verifications, references, interviews, etc. to make an informed decision about the individual.
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December 2, 2009
In case you missed any of our employee screening articles for October and November, here’s a quick recap of our most popular:
- Florida Lawmakers Pledge Changes To Their Background Screening Program
- Sex Offender Safety Tips
- No Background Check? No Problem – Cracking Down On The Gun Show Loophole
- How A Woman Falsified Her Nursing Credentials For 18 Years
- University Removes New-Hire DNA Testing From It’s Background Check Policy
- Genes and Jobs: Can Employers Use Your DNA For A Background Check?
- 100% Of Companies Will Be Using Social Networks As Part Of Their Employee Screening Program By 2012
- How To Protect Your Company When Googling Job Applicants
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November 6, 2009
On October 20, 2009, while on her lunch break, a Tennessee kindergarten teacher was cited for shoplifting $62 worth of wrinkle cream from Walmart. This past summer the teacher was convicted of stealing steaks from a Kroger. She has three DUIs and a citation for driving on a suspended license for excessive speeding tickets. She also has five aliases and she’s been teaching young children for the past five years.
As of November 5, 2009 she was still in the classroom teaching. Watch the video.
What’s wrong here?
The state only requires a background check at the time of hire.
This is a good reminder that your organization should have a Post-Hire Screening Program in place.
A Post-Hire Screening Program (also called recurring screening) is considered a best practice for employers. It ensures a safe workplace and helps reduce the risk of a negligent retention lawsuit. Conducting checks on all new hires is essential. Keep in mind, that a lot can happen in the years after a new hire comes aboard. Companies should consider protecting themselves with periodic post-hire criminal checks and drug screening.
For more information please read:
November 6, 2009
The University of Akron is backing away from a controversial new policy, which appears to be the first in the nation, saying that new hires can be DNA tested as part of a background check.
William Rich, the vice chairman of the Ohio university’s Faculty Senate, said late Thursday that the administration was now willing to remove references to DNA testing from its background check policy.
As CBSNews.com reported last week, the university’s board of trustees adopted a rule saying a “DNA sample for purpose of a federal criminal background check” may be collected from any prospective faculty, staff, or contractor. That policy, which includes no explicit privacy guarantees, appears to violate a federal law that takes effect on November 21 called the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.
Related Posts From FYI Screening:
- A Growing Trend – Data Security and Protection
- Background Checks For The Education Industry
- Diploma Mills: Degrees of Deception
- Six Background Screening Mistakes To Avoid
Photo Credit: kyz
June 17, 2009
There is a growing trend in employment screening that places more responsibility on employers to analyze a past criminal record to determine whether there is a business justification not to hire a person.
From The Columbus Dispatch:
Schools Could Hire Former Criminals
Custodians, bus drivers, secretaries and cafeteria workers could work in schools even with a past drug or theft conviction under a new rule being considered by the State Board of Education.
Committing a sex crime, kidnapping and murder still would prevent someone from working in a school. But some people who have committed nonviolent crimes — including robbery, cultivating marijuana or drug trafficking — could show they have been “rehabilitated” under the proposed rule.
The proposal would allow people with those less-serious convictions that occurred well in the past — ranging from five to 20 years, depending on the type of crime — work in a school if they can show evidence that they have walked the straight and narrow since. It would apply to new applicants and current employees.
Read the article here.
Related Posts From FYI Screening:
Photo Credits: krispdk
October 31, 2008
In case you missed any of our employee screening articles for October, here’s a quick recap:
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October 27, 2008
One of tragic ironies of the education industry is that it often fails to properly screen teachers. For example, a study conducted in 2007 found that most Illinois teachers who were hired prior to 2004 were exempt from FBI background checks. These educators have a dangerous level of exposure to children. Consider that many of them could easily hide a criminal past.
Newspapers are filled with hundreds of cases in which educators are hired, but are unsuitable to have exposure to children. For example, a high school teacher named Jaime Katheryn Steen was recently jailed for distributing pornographic pictures to her students. George Tolbert, convicted of sexually abusing 2 children, served 4 years in jail, only to earn his teaching credentials and teach for 10 years. Chassappasi Rain, convicted of shooting 2 people in 1978, earned his teaching certificate in 1990 and found a teaching job in the Chicago Public School System.
Comprehensive background checks should have been performed on each of these people prior to hiring them as educators. By failing to screen them properly and allowing them into the classroom, school administrators are gambling with the safety of the students in their care.
Pre-Employment Screening For Educators
As the number of criminal cases involving teachers continues to escalate, state governments are starting to require pre-employment background checks. The problem is that the scope of these background checks is usually inadequate. They’re often limited to running an applicant’s name through an FBI database and doing a child abuse registry search. Not only is this approach plagued with problems (i.e. misspelled names, out of date profiles, etc.), but they often fail to uncover past criminal convictions.
School administrators need to implement more thorough pre-employment screening protocols. Even if funding seems to be a obstacle, it’s important to realize that properly screening teachers and conducting wide-ranging criminal background checks is relatively inexpensive. In fact, it can usually be done for less than what that teacher will earn during their first day on the job.
Doing the bare minimum when screening educators is no longer a viable option. There is simply too much risk to the safety of the students. Allowing convicted felons to gain all-day access to children is a recipe for disaster. In fact, the education industry has been buffeted by high-profile incidents for years. It’s time for school administrators to take control by conducting extensive background checks on all personnel.
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