TEA

TEA Provides Details on Fingerprinting of Noncertified New Hires

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) recently outlined the fingerprinting procedures that districts must follow to check the criminal histories of all noncertified employees hired after January 1, 2008. A copy of the procedures is now available on the State Board for Educator Certification’s (SBEC) Web site.

 

Any noncertified employee hired after January 1, 2008, must be fingerprinted so districts can obtain criminal history information from the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Districts must upload the required information on all applicants to SBEC and each individual’s fingerprints must be submitted for processing before the employee starts work. An applicant who is hired can begin work before the fingerprint review is complete, though continued employment is contingent on the results of the review.

It’s up to districts to determine who will pay the fingerprinting fees ($57 per person). The district can cover the cost or pass it on to the applicant. Fees must be paid on line using a credit card or an approved debit card before a fingerprinting appointment is made.

Noncertified employees, including noncertified support personnel, bus drivers, and custodial staff, hired before January 1, 2008, are not subject to the fingerprint check. The district must have reviewed the criminal history of these employees through DPS or a third-party vendor. Subsequent review is not required, though the district is not limited on how often it runs checks on current employees.

A proposed commissioner’s rule also addresses the procedures TEA will use to notify an employee or applicant that he or she is ineligible for employment, the district’s obligations, the fingerprinting requirements for charter school educators, and the appeal procedures when employment is denied.

Substitutes and Certified Employees. All current substitutes must have a fingerprint check done. This includes any substitute who is currently working or is on a district’s eligible substitute list who hasn’t had a fingerprint check in the past. The schedule and deadline for the submission of fingerprints of substitutes will be set by TEA.

Details on how fingerprinting of current certified employees will proceed have not been released. It is reported that TEA is working with the Austin Independent School District to test the procedures. All certified employees must have undergone a fingerprint criminal history check by September 1, 2011.

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