Principals and teachers are required to have a criminal background check in Kansas. However this is not the case for other employees, aides and school bus drivers. A local man had been arrested by Police in Topeka on child pornography charges carried out in Texas. The man was working as a bus driver for schools. The company that had employed the felon commented that he had, in fact, been subject to a national criminal records check and subsequently cleared.
The Kansas State Dept. of Education confirm that regulations are inclusive a drug and alcohol abuse history check for applicants considered for the role of school bus drivers. However there is no criminal background check. Neither are non licensed workers processed for a criminal records check. Along with para educators, secretaries and lunch personnel. It is conditional that teachers submit finger prints for a criminal records check to Kansas State Dept. of Education.
The Schools Board has no estimate of the number of districts of the state (286) conduct criminal records background check. In total the Topeka Capital Journal contacted four districts – Seaman, Topeka, Shawnee Heights and Auburn-Washburn. These 4 districts confirmed they carried out criminal records checks on prospective non licensed employees.
A national database was was used to check applicants but procedures varied. Where finger prints weren’t requested by one district they would complement this with re processing criminal records background checks on a rotating ongoing basis.
A bill has been passed to expand requirements for finger printing all employees along with criminal records background checks. This would cover all employees coming in to contact with children. This could well mean the additional collation of around 27,000 school workers finger prints.
The bus driver arrested was Kelly Hooper. He is accused of being a fugitive from justice by prosecutors in Texas. After learning he was under investigation (Child Pornography he skipped the state, extradition is expected. Hooper was taken on in mid April following it’s background checks policy.
The previous 2 years of a bus driver’s commercial driver’s license must also be checked for alcohol and drug testing. If a driver has failed alcohol and drug tests then there are requirements in place for substance abuse treatment.
By law Bus drivers must declare convictions relating to children or felonies in the past decade. However there is no requirement in law that requires the answers to be independently checked. If they also have a DUI in the past 10 years this will also disqualify them. Furthermore commercial licenses should be accompanied with special endorsements (re: school bus). However this neither requires a criminal records background check
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