A months-long backlog in completing criminal background checks means that some Missouri school districts put teachers in classrooms before their checks are done, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. That’s how a man ended teaching music – before a background check revealed that police had questioned him in the spring about allegations of sexual misconduct with a student from another district. The man was arrested this week on charges of statutory rape and sodomy with a 14-year-old high school student.
School district officials said they received the results of his background check last week, months after they had sent his fingerprints to the Missouri State Highway Patrol for processing. School districts in desperate need of teachers will allow someone with certification to teach before officials receive the results of the background check. The State Highway Patrol is handling a growing number of fingerprint checks, not just for teachers but also for nursing home employees, school bus drivers, and applicants for concealed weapon permits. Because of new state laws, the number of requests for background checks have more than doubled, to nearly 100,000 last year from 40,000 checks in 2003.