MSP: School Background Checks Are the Best Deterrent to Employee Crimes

A number of investigations are underway in several northern and mid-Michigan school districts this month.

From Alpena and Lake City to Kingsley and Fremont, multiple school employees are facing allegations of misconduct.

Michigan State Police Trooper Dave Pritchard says, “The schools, obviously like us, have the kids’ best interests at heart. But sometimes things happen. Everyone’s just doing the best they can.”

State Police and school leaders want parents to know that investigations are taken seriously.

Cindy Berck with Traverse City Area Public Schools Human Resources, says, “For any public school educator, safety of students and staff is a top priority.”

TCAPS, which is not a focus of any current criminal investigation, says parents should also know what precautions are made before any staff member is hired.

“If they’re offered a position they go through a Michigan State Police as well as an FBI fingerprint background check prior to starting work in the district,” says TCAPS Human Recourses Cindy Berck.

While reference checks and background checks can’t stop new crimes from happening, those checks are done in every Michigan school district before an employee is hired.

Trooper Pritchard says, “Some things do get missed. The system’s only as good as what’s input into the system.”

And even after an employee is hired, Berck says any arrest of a school employee would trigger an automatic notification.

“If they’re subsequently arrested, their fingerprints are taken,” Berck says. “That’s the database that is compared to determine is this an individual that is a public school employee.”

Those databases are cross-referenced and reports are issued to schools quarterly.
But state and federal background checks are still viewed as the best preventative measure for employers.

Trooper Pritchard says, “It’s very critical that people are screened, especially working with our children right in the community. It’s the biggest resource we have.”