A man was hired as an elementary school teacher in Baton Rouge. In filling out his job application, he answered “no” when asked if he had ever been convicted of a crime. The school conducted a background check; however, they allowed the man to begin teaching in the school. Parents became suspicious after their children complained that their new teacher talked to himself and when he wasn’t posting any grades. Weeks later (although the state police said it normally takes five to seven days, it took twenty-one in this case), the background check came in, showing that he had lied on the application (he had been convicted of multiple felonies and spent months in prison). He resigned the day the background check came in.
At a private meeting, school leaders apologized for hiring a teacher without first waiting for the results of his background check, but noted that it had been a longstanding practice to do so. They also noted they are revising the district’s policy manual to remove the language that allows for conditional hiring before a background check is complete.
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Thankfully, this case did not end tragically, as in so many other situations. But again, it demonstrates the importance of employers knowing who they are hiring, particularly when they are working with a vulnerable group, such as children.
As always, we are here to help. Please contact us if you have any questions about your own background screening practices.