School District Went 17 Years without Background Checks
By Trevor Armstrong, Marketing —
Thousands of workers in one New Mexico school district working in close proximity to children have maintained employment for years despite never having undergone a background check. Although years had passed with no reported incidents, an abuse case recently surfaced and is being investigated in the school district. The deputy superintendent of Albuquerque Public Schools was accused of sexually abusing two boys. Unfortunately, it only was after this incident that school officials recognized the lack of background checking in the district.
Background Checks Necessary for All
After further investigation into the case, Attorney General Hector Balderas was shocked to discover that the school district only began requiring background checks in 1999, and over 2,000 of the school district’s employees hired before that year were never required to undergo the checks. Even the man second in charge of the district was never required to receive a background check. Rather, he was handpicked for the job by then-superintendent Luis Valentino. Had the deputy superintendent undergone a background check, his previous criminal charges for sexual assault would have been discovered. His case has led the attorney general to demand that all of the school district’s workers undergo a background check immediately. He also is pushing the district to do random criminal background checks on its staff to verify whether anyone’s criminal record has changed.
If employers—such as the administration in this particular school district—neglect to take necessary precautions and screen their employees, they could face enormous liability issues, particularly regarding the safety of children. Yet, employers often neglect to perform background checks or screen their applicants in other ways in order to avoid high costs and also perhaps to protect the privacy of their employees. But in the long run, this neglect has the potential to generate negative publicity and can also result in increased costs due to legal fees. Organizations, particularly those that maintain close proximity with children, should take precautions early to protect first and foremost the children they come in contact with as well as themselves and their reputations by screening their employees from the get-go.
An Easier Way to Perform Background Checks
To assist organizations in guaranteeing the integrity of their employees, Converus has developed a non-intrusive and relatively inexpensive technology. EyeDetect is a lie detection technology that examines eye movement as job candidates answer questions about past work experience. EyeDetect is simple to operate and implement and has been proven to be highly accurate. If the New Mexico school district had been able to implement EyeDetect early on, students would have been safer and parents would have been at ease knowing their children were under the supervision of trustworthy employees. Converus is confident that school districts and other organizations can rely on EyeDetect to protect their employees, clients, and reputation.
Photo courtesy of Conal Gallagher.