State Education Department

Criminal History Background Checks for School Employees (Follow-Up Report)

Applicants for teaching and most other positions in New York’s public schools must be checked for criminal histories by the Division of Criminal Justice Services and the FBI. Outside New York City, these criminal history background checks are coordinated and overseen by the State Education Department.

In audit 2007-S-119, we examined the Department’s oversight of this process and found that improvements were needed, as the background checks were sometimes subject to long delays. Since individuals could be hired, conditionally, before their background checks were completed, there was a risk that individuals with inappropriate criminal backgrounds could have extended contact with students while their background checks were still pending. We recommended that the Department actively monitor whether background checks were being completed in a timely manner and take appropriate action when they were not. In addition, since schools were sometimes inappropriately hiring applicants before requesting background checks, we recommended that the Department remind the schools of their obligation to request background checks promptly. When we followed up on these matters with Department officials, we found that they had made progress in implementing our audit recommendations.

For a complete copy of Report 2010-F-16 click here.