State law requiring new background checks causing confusion ahead of school year

Published: Aug. 1, 2018 at 5:32 PM EDT
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A new Kentucky law is causing headaches for the state ahead of the upcoming school year.

The law passed in 2017 will expand background checks for those hoping to work in Kentucky’s school systems. The law will have its first impact during this current hiring season.

“I got probably a dozen calls about this yesterday. It’s causing problems everywhere,” said Wayne Young, Executive Director and general counsel for the Kentucky Association of School Administrators.

The new law will require new hires who fall in the categories of employees, student teachers, contractors and volunteers to turn in a letter from the Cabinet of Health and Family Services assuring that they are not on the list of substantiated reports of child abuse or neglect. This comes as an addition to the current statute requiring a criminal background check.

Young says a lot of the confusion surrounding the law is coming from deciding exactly which new hires are considered contractors. He said he believes that to mean only those working directly with children, and not plumbers or landscapers, for example.

Another issue plaguing the state is the backlog of requests for the new form.

“It’s been widely misunderstood, and all the ‘what ifs’ that are being asked,” Young said. “They are asking the same agency for the same document at the same time.”

Young said while the requirement only applies to new hires, some districts are doing more than is required by the law, and even requesting the letter for all employees. This is contributing to the backup in forms.