Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fingerprinting and Safety?

Well, I had another first today:  I got fingerprinted as part of the hiring process for substitute teaching.  In NY the schools check their employees against the state criminal records, which makes sense to me.  I wouldn't want someone convicted of a violent crime or a sexual crime or any crime against a child working in a school.  I'm okay with the background check - safety is good.

However, I do have one question about this process.  You see, although it takes 4-6 weeks for the state to check a person's fingerprints and determine if they have a criminal record, I'm already on the school's substitute teacher list.  As of today.  I could be called tomorrow morning  So, theoretically, I could be a sex offender or violent predator, and be working in a New York state public school for a month or more before anyone realized that I was a dangerous person.  Am I the only one who is disturbed by this situation?  If the safety of our children is paramount  in our schools (and it obviously should be), why on earth would the school district allow such a gaping hole in the process for clearing people for employment with our kids?

The more I think about this part of the hiring process, the more uncomfortable I am with it.  As much as I understand that people need jobs, and schools need good subs, and it's a bit of a hassle to interview and hire people over the summer for fall positions, I don't think the school is handling their hiring process in a way that protects the students.  If it takes 4-6 weeks to get fingerprints cleared with state police agencies, then new subs should be recruited, interviewed and fingerprinted in JULY, not SEPTEMBER.

The other thing is, I had to pay for my own fingerprinting - almost $100.  It's a one-time thing, but it's still a chunk of money out of my pocket before I have any chance of seeing a paycheck from the school.  If the school wants to hire me, I think the school should pay for the fingerprinting and background check.

But there is so much wrong with school bureaucracies, and with New York state bureaucracy in particular, I don't even want to go there.  I'm grateful to have the opportunity to earn some money to add to my family's budget.  Thankfully I know I'm not a criminal.  But how does the school know at this moment that I'm a safe person to have around children?  They don't.  And that still bothers me.

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