Senate Bill 9

Senate Bill 9 "National Criminal History & Criminal History Records of School Employees"

                       

Frequently Asked Questions - Senate Bill 9 for Administrators updated 10/16/07


1. What does SB 9 require a district to do as soon as possible?

SB 9 became effective when the Governor signed it on June 15, 2007.  However, many of its requirements, including all those that apply to certified educators and substitutes, will be phased in over the next four years.  The following types of school employees and volunteers should have a background check as soon as possible.   These employees will not be required to be fingerprinted and will not go into the DPS clearinghouse but must be given a name-based background check.

  1. Noncertified employees hired before 1/1/08 (if hired on or after 1/1/08, will be fingerprinted). 
  2. Contractor employees hired before 1/1/08 who have direct contact with students (if hired on or after 1/1/08, will be fingerprinted). 
  3. Student teachers
  4. Volunteers, unless they are a) a parent or guardian of a student, b) accompanied on campus by a district employee, or c) volunteering for a single event

2. What if my district has already fingerprinted some or all of its employees?

SB 9 requires that certain school employees be fingerprinted in such a way that their national criminal histories can be reported and updated through the DPS clearinghouse.  Unfortunately, it is not possible for DPS to transfer existing fingerprint data into the clearinghouse unless it was associated with an SBEC application for certification.  Therefore, even if school employees that SB 9 requires be fingerprinted have previously been fingerprinted by a district, they will have to be fingerprinted again so that their criminal histories and updates can be entered into the clearinghouse. 

3. What if my district wants to go ahead and fingerprint all employees now?

TEA, SBEC, and DPS will establish rules and procedures to authorize an employee to be fingerprinted so that the national criminal history information can be entered into and updated through the clearinghouse.  Districts have the authority to immediately do any type of criminal background check on their employees that the district decides is appropriate, but those employees that SB 9 requires to be fingerprinted and entered into the DPS clearinghouse (certified, noncertified hired after 1/1/08, and substitutes) will have to be fingerprinted again if their fingerprints were not authorized by TEA, SBEC, and DPS.

4. What is the DPS clearinghouse?

The clearinghouse created by SB 9 will be administered by DPS which will develop specific procedures for its use.  The clearinghouse will be a database containing an employee’s national criminal history based on fingerprints, photos, and other identification that will enable the employing school district and TEA and/or SBEC to have access to not only the employee’s current national criminal history, but also will provide updates of the employee’s subsequent criminal history.

5. How and when will certified educators be fingerprinted?

All active (those who are currently employed by Texas public schools) certified educators must be fingerprinted by September 1, 2011.  The current estimate is that there are 350,000 to 400,000 active educators not previously fingerprinted in connection with their SBEC certification application.  Clearly, SBEC cannot fingerprint all these educators immediately.  SB 9 authorizes SBEC to schedule and adopt rules and deadlines for compliance with this process, as well as sanctions, including suspension or revocation, for failure to comply.  The development of these rules and procedures is still a work in progress.  Districts should make every effort to ensure that educators maintain a current address in the records of SBEC (required by 19 Tex. Admin. Code 230.431).  Any fingerprinting notices will be sent to that address, and failure to comply with a notice to submit fingerprints may result in the educator’s certificate being placed on inactive status.  An educator may update his or her address online at the Board’s website at: http://www.sbec.state.tx.us/SBECOnline/educator_why.asp?width=1024&height=768

Link to Senate Bill 9: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/tlodocs/80R/billtext/doc/SB00009F.doc

6. What standards will TEA apply when deciding employability for non-certified individuals based on their criminal history?

Sec. 22.085(a) of the Texas Education Code states that a public school entity must discharge or refuse to hire an employee or applicant if:

    (1) the employee or applicant has been convicted of:
      (A) a felony offense under Title 5, Penal Code;
      (B) an offense on conviction of which a defendant is required to register as a sex offender under Chapter 62, Code of Criminal Procedure; or
      (C) an offense under the laws of another state or federal law that is equivalent to an offense under Paragraph (A) or (B); and
    (2) at the time the offense occurred, the victim of the offense described by Subdivision (1) was under 18 years of age or was enrolled in a public school.
Subsection (b) provides that this prohibition on employment does not apply to a conviction under Title 5, Penal Code, if the date of the offense is more than 30 years before. Title 5, Penal Code, Offenses Against the Person, includes such offenses as murder, kidnapping, sexual offenses, and assaults.
                                       
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