Public schools would be barred from employing teachers and other workers convicted of sexual offenses against children or other violent crimes under a bill approved by the U.S. House, the Associated Press reports. It would require school systems to check state and federal criminal records for employees with unsupervised access to elementary and secondary school students, and for people seeking those jobs. Workers refusing to submit to checks would not be allowed to have school jobs.
Congress’ Government Accountability Office cited one estimate that there are 620,000 convicted sex offenders in the U.S. It found that state laws on the employment of sex offenders in schools vary. Some require less stringent background checks than others, and they differ on how people with past convictions are treated, such as whether they are fired or lose their teaching license. The bill has drawn objections from major teachers’ unions like the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, which expressed concerns that the measure might jeopardize workers’ protections under union contracts.