Background checks could include Baldwin-Whitehall School District volunteers
Background checks could include Baldwin-Whitehall School District volunteers as administrators take a closer look at school safety.
“Ultimately, the goal is to keep students safe,” Superintendent Randal Lutz said.
Safety is at the forefront of many school district discussions after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December, and Baldwin-Whitehall is no exception. Officials are working to better monitor employees' clearances throughout his or her career. The district also is set to adopt a policy on volunteers that would require anyone who comes into the schools to submit to the same clearances as employees.
“I think we have a good process in place,” Lutz said. “The district has to be prepared for what comes next.”
Job candidates first are screened for qualifications and a preliminary interview before they are asked to seek clearances, Lutz said.
“The clearances will give you a hit on anything,” Lutz said. “We do not move forward until we have the clearances in hand.”
Three clearances are required for anyone hired in the district, Lutz said. The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare issues a child abuse clearance through the Allegheny Intermediate Unit. The district also requires clearances from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Pennsylvania State Police.
Hits on any felony or arrests or convictions for violence, endangering the welfare of children, sexual acts or drugs will disqualify candidates, Lutz said.
Other arrests or conviction for crimes such as driving under the influence, underage drinking, speeding or parking citations might not disqualify a candidate, but there will be discussion about the incident, Lutz said. Hiring managers look at where that employee will work and in what capacity before determining whether to hire the person.
“Some don't disqualify someone from work,” Lutz said. “I know some very, very respected people in this district and they make some mistakes ... We look at that and we talk about it.”
Lutz, a district employee since 1996, received clearances when he was hired, but has had none since then, he said. In 2011, Act 24 became law, requiring all school employees to disclose any criminal arrests or convictions, Lutz said.
“The onus is on the employee,” Lutz said. “If people fail to report, it will end in discipline.”
Likewise, the district's human resources officials will begin doing checks to make sure employees have disclosed arrests or convictions, Lutz said.
The school board also is in the reviewing a policy that addresses volunteers — defining them and requiring them to submit to background clearances. The policy states that the cost of the clearances will be the responsibility of the volunteer or the parent or boosters group they represent.
Laura Van Wert is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5814 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.