statehouse would tighten indiana’s laws on background checks for teachers and school employees. it’s a story newschannel 15’s holly campbell has been following for weeks.
she joins us now with what the bills would do. we really started looking into this issue after a garrett teacher was arrested for battery and public intoxication in indianapolis last month. we did some digging and found he
served jail time for a dui in another state. so we wanted to know – what kind of screening teachers in indiana go through before they enter the classroom, and what happens when background checks show a conviction. holly: under indiana law – every
teacher must go through a criminal background check and search of the sex offender registry. the hiring school district will be notified of any arrrests or convictions in any state. risa: "background checks can be either fingerprint based or
public record based." holly: right now districts have three months to do the background checks on new teachers – something the department of education says helps districts make quick hires. risa: "if you don’t hire someone
until right when school starts you need a little bit of time to get that done and you obviously need them in the classroom instructing students." holly: so what happens when the background check shows an arrest or conviction? there are
several convictions that would cause someone’s teaching license to be immediately revoked, but some convictions – like dui’s – are taken case by case. 16.29.10 kruse: "it’s still left up to the school, so they could still
hire that person if they had a dwi or were arrested for shoplifting or whatever else it might have been. they can still hire them but at least they know what they are hiring." risa: "those kinds of judgement
decisions are really policy decisions as the local level that really would reflect the values of the community and the school community." holly: kruse says there are a combined six bills focusing on making schools safer for students.
one bill would require districts to call an applicant’s references. another would require the background check to be done in two months – not three. and others focus on inappropriate relationships with students –
something we’ve seen over the years in northeast indiana. 16.29.31 kruse: "it seems like we’ve had more and more of these incidents happening in the last several years, so i think it makes it more important that these bills become law so we
can kind of shore this up in the state of indiana so we can have our kids feel safer in school." another bill going through the statehouse would make all employees to through a background check – something the department of education supports.
and another would require checks every five years.