McKenzie School starts background checks

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 27, 2004

New teachers as well as those who have been with McKenzie School for many years took part in a new program by the Alabama Department of Education recently.

The program allows for teachers to be submitted to a background check to assure parents that teachers are qualified.

The new program was started earlier this year and has finally made its way to McKenzie.

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McKenzie Principal Randy Williams said that the program was now a solid feature of the County school system.

&uot;This is now standard procedure in Butler County,&uot; said Williams. &uot;Support personnel, teachers and even substitutes will all have to undergo a background check.&uot;

Teachers undergo a series of events in order to complete the background check.

The check will include finger printing and the signing of a release form that will allow the state to perform a background check for incoming or existing teachers.

Williams said that the state would then take the background checks and assess them.

&uot;All of this will be regulated by the state,&uot; said Williams. &uot;All of our employees that have unlimited supervision of children will have the checks done.&uot;

Williams felt that the checks were a positive thing. He felt that the checks gave parents peace of mind.

&uot;I really think that it is a good thing,&uot; said Williams. &uot;If you are in education you are in the business of watching children and we want to know that everything is okay.&uot;

Until now, existing teachers were only asked to have a background check if they changed school districts.

Earlier this year a law went into effect requiring all teachers to be fingerprinted and have an examination to determine if they had a criminal history.

For several years, the state has required that all new teachers have the background checks.

However, with the passage of the law all teachers are now subject to background checks.

If a teacher has no background check the choices are simple: Get one or give up teaching.

&uot;If you’re going to have unsupervised access to children I think that it is important that teachers have these checks done,&uot; said Williams. &uot;The fingerprinting and background checks are all just a part of trying to make our educational system as successful and safe as possible.&uot;

Those who undergo the background checks will undergo a check by the Alabama Bureau of Investigations and the FBI.

The state will be paying for the checks on existing teachers.

However, new teachers will pay a $49 fee.

The Department of Education began the checks in August in Mobile County.

The checks will continue until every county and school district has been covered.