An oversight in Greenwood County, South Carolina demonstrates the importance of running background checks on all workers with access to schools, including contractors, sub-contractors, and part-time employees.
Last October, deputies arrested two sub-contractors working at Springfield Elementary School on disorderly conduct charges for requesting hugs and making obscene gestures to children at lunch time.
A local television station ran criminal background checks on the men after their arrest and discovered both are convicted felons. Their crimes include burglary, driving under the influence, aggravated assault, and charges of sexual misconduct with children under the age of 11.
The South Carolina Department of Education requires background checks on teachers, employees and volunteers, but not on contractors or sub-contractors. “That fact alone likely would have absolved the school district from liability for the actions of these men,” according to MSEC attorney Curtis Graves. “The school district performed the background investigations it was required to perform. However, I think we can all agree that it’s time for them to raise the bar a little.”
To ensure a safe workplace, employers following best practices guidelines should run background checks on all employees placed in positions of trust with children – from full-time to part-time and from contractors to sub-contractors.