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Background checks are required for all applicants

September 29, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

Washington County Public Schools spokeswoman Carol Mowen said a criminal background check is required for all applicants after they receive a job offer, including substitute bus assistants.

Citing personnel matters, Mowen declined to say whether a criminal background check was done for Dana Burcker, whose employment as a substitute bus assistant ended Sept. 24

Mowen did say the school system was in compliance with the law.

Burcker said her criminal history - which includes a misdemeanor conviction for conspiracy to commit robbery in August 2002 - was known when she worked for the school system through a contractor and during her brief employment with the school system. She said a criminal background check occurred both times.

"In general, the law does not prevent employers from hiring employees with an arrest record or a criminal conviction," Mowen said. "That doesn't make you ineligible. Determinations are made on a case-by-case basis in terms of employment."

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According to data provided by Mowen, certain crimes would disqualify a candidate from being employed as a school vehicle attendant.

A school system may not hire a person to serve as a school vehicle attendant if criminal charges are pending against the individual or if they are convicted of a crime involving child abuse or neglect; contributing to the delinquency of a minor; moral turpitude, if the offense bears directly on the individual's fitness to transport minors; or a controlled dangerous substance offense as defined in federal or state law.

"Our goal is to have the best applicant for the job," Mowen said. "Certainly, we would want to ensure that our hiring practices and our operating practices are fair. That would certainly be something that was important to the operations of the school system."

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