Nearly every day, Tina Tranauskas sees more need to require stronger employee background checks for people who work in schools, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. She cites an eighth-grade math teacher at a Philadelphia disciplinary school who wound up on the city’s most-wanted list last month. If a tough new bill she is advocating had been state law, the school would have been notified immediately when the teacher was charged last year with raping a 14-year-old girl, she said. “I know that because the loopholes are so large, there are people who are getting through them,” said Tranauska, a public-school parent who doubles as director of the group PA School Watch.
The bill she’s pushing would prohibit anyone convicted of a serious crime from working in schools and would close the gaping loopholes that set Pennsylvania apart from New Jersey, which requires greater reporting and more extensive fingerprinting of school employees. The bill would require annual fingerprinting for all those working near children. It would require the fingerprints to be kept in a database and would compel law enforcement agencies to notify administrators whenever school personnel are charged with crimes. “Parents are absolutely shocked that this is the system they’re trusting,” Tranauskas said. “Anyone who works with children should have a safe history.”