Teachers and other applicants for school jobs in Illinois will have to undergo more-stringent background checks, including providing their fingerprints to the FBI, under a new law that aims to keep criminals out of the classroom, reports the Chicago Tribune. “We must do everything we can to provide parents peace of mind when they send their children off to schools,” Gov. Rod Blagojevich said in signing the measure. “We’re giving school officials another tool to check and make sure the people they hire in their schools should be there.”
The law reformed one of weakest systems in the nation for checking the backgrounds of prospective teachers. The Tribune reported last year that Illinois was one of only three states that did not require fingerprinting when teachers are licensed or hired, even when applicants are from another state. For nearly two decades, a typical check involved only a check for in-state crimes, based on the applicant’s name, date of birth, and other identifying factors.