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40K background checks a year performed for Indiana schools

Posted: 4:46 PM, Jul 21, 2016
Updated: 2016-07-22 00:07:09-04

DANVILLE, Ind. – As you get your kids ready to head back to school, a Danville company is making it their business to help keep your children safe.

Safe Hiring Solutions performs 40,000 background checks for Indiana school districts each year, according to CEO Mike McCarty.

“You can’t do enough, it’s about protecting kids,” McCarty said.

A 2009 law requires Indiana schools to perform a national criminal history check on candidates before they can be hired to work alongside children.

Also, violence in schools and sexual misconduct among educators remain top concerns for school districts in Indiana.

CALL 6 | Legislators tackle teacher sexual misconduct

Safe Hiring Solutions uses 37 staffers to comb through state and county criminal records and national and state sex offender registries.

“At least once a month, we see a sex offender trying to volunteer or gain employment with a school district,” said McCarthy. “It’s terribly frightening.”

They also look at the job a candidate is applying for.

“If I’m going to hire a bus driver, I want to make sure the bus driver hasn’t had DUIs,” said McCarty. “If I’m hiring someone in food service who will be handling money, I want to check for theft or money related crimes.”

Schools like Maplewood Elementary School in MSD Wayne Township are also using Safe Hiring Solutions to check visitors.

A new system scans a visitor’s driver’s license barcode, checks the national sex offender registry, takes a picture of the visitor and creates a badge that changes over the course of the day.

“There’s a stop sign on there, and after a couple hours that stop sign will show up indicating that’s an old badge, so you can’t come back tomorrow or next week,” said Pete Just, Chief Technology Officer for MSD Wayne Township.

Just said previously, badges never expired, plus the schools relied on visitors to manually enter their own information.

“We weren’t certain that was really their name,” said Just. “We weren’t double checking. So we’ve increased our procedures so that we can be certain.”

It costs the district $175 a year per school for the Safe Visitor service.

McCarty said at least ten other companies in Indiana also do background checks for schools, and cost about $35 per applicant.

Business is booming for Safe Hiring Solutions, so much so they’re outgrowing their little brick house in Danville.

“We are maxed out and looking to expand,” said McCarty.

Lawmakers are floating the idea of requiring school districts to do national criminal history checks on existing school employees, not just new ones.

“Probably 40 to 50 percent of school employees in Indiana have never had a national background check since it was required in 2009,” McCarty told legislators Monday.

Safe Hiring Solutions is also offering a tool aimed at evaluating whether a potential employee may have boundary issues with students.

It's called the RefLynk Talent Evaluator .