A wide-reaching measure in Massachusetts will require a national fingerprint background check for teachers, school bus drivers and other child care workers. Gov. Deval Patrick said the new law closes a loophole in existing state law, according to The Associated Press (AP).
The measure requires that fingerprints will be submitted to state police for state criminal history checks and also forwarded to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for national background checks. Previously, background checks were done by name only and did not extend beyond state records.
The new law brings Massachusetts on par with other states that conduct national fingerprint checks for child care workers. “We have historically checked the background of employees in schools and day care centers based on information that we can get from Massachusetts, but people move around so we ought to be able to get that information from elsewhere,” Patrick said.
The law covers a range of people who come into close contact with children. It includes public and private school teachers, school bus drivers and licensed family child care providers, as well as their household members age 15 or older and other individuals who are regularly on the premises. The law also covers people seeking to adopt children or become foster parents.
Newly hired teachers, bus drivers and other school workers must undergo the background checks before the start of the next school year. Current school employees must undergo the new background checks before the 2016-2017 school year.