Verifying safety for children proves a priority

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Cassville requires background checks for all new hires, volunteers

In an effort to keep its students safe, the Cassville school district completes background checks on all new hires, aiming to make sure the background check the district pays for is the best.

Richard Asbill, Cassville school superintendent, said any school employee or volunteer, before they are allowed to have any access to the students, must go through a background check.

“The purpose of the background check is really to ensure the safety and security of those who may be around our students,” Asbill said. “Also, there is an insurance and employment liability as we review those candidates.”

According to Asbill, the only way to properly ensure that candidates are eligible for employment and employable without past issues that could endanger the students, is the background check.

“We have done background checks for well over 14 years,” Asbill said. “The issue is that the background check system has changed as more technology and state and federal databases have combined together.”

Asbill said the background checks that Cassville schools have done over the last five years are much different than what it did 10 years ago, mostly because those systems are more related to each other now.

“We use the Missouri Applicant Fingerprint Services (MOAPS) system with the Highway Patrol,” Asbill said. “It is integrated with other systems, and it is a fairly comprehensive background check.”

Asbill said some systems in the past were limited in what information they could provide, specifically in regards to the look-back period, which is something that happened years ago verses last year. Also, they may have been limited as to what each state provides in that background review.

“The advances in background checks have made things much more efficient, more comprehensive and it is something we feel is an important step to ensure student safety,” Asbill said. “With these checks, you get what you pay for.”

According to Asbill, the school district believes that the background check is a necessity and would hate to think that trying to save $30 would give someone access to children that could cause harm.

“We pay $40.50 per background check,” Asbill said. “Every new employee or volunteer goes through the background check.”

Asbill said there is a time period where the school district would receive notification of infractions that lead to arrest with an employee.

“We are still reliant on monitoring city and county police reports once the initial background check has been passed,” Asbill said. “This is to verify if something else has come up on the employee’s record since they were hired.”

According to Asbill, there are policies in place where the individual is responsible for reporting those instances to the school district.

“We try to evaluate those on an ongoing bases,” Asbill said. “For example, our substitute teachers have a state teaching certificate that is good for one year.

“So when they have to renew the certificate they go through the background check again.”

Asbill said if a teacher is arrested out of state, the school district would initially not know about the infraction.

“That is why it is important that we have those policies in place for the teacher to come forward with that information,” Asbill said. “We wouldn’t be interested in something like a speeding ticket for most employees.”

Asbill said there are certain requirements for school bus drivers to have a clean driving record.

“That is on a state level as well though,” Asbill said. “Meaning it isn’t a requirement set by the school district, but rather requirement set by the class of licenses they would have.”

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