Massachusetts adopts FBI-based Background Check for School Officials

Recently, Governor Deval Patrick signed a new law that will require all Massachusetts teachers, school employees, child care providers, and school bus drivers to submit their fingerprints prior to starting the September 2013 school year.

Even under the new record sealing laws, these particular entities had access to “sealed records” of potential employees due to their close contact with children. However, only a state background check was issued, unless certain circumstances known to the employer warranted a more comprehensive check of a particular candidate. Now, the FBI-based system will provide a national check of the person’s criminal history.

In addition to the background check going to the national level, the FBI-based system is more comprehensive in terms of “hits” on a check. In Massachusetts, even the most comprehensive background check, such as those done for teachers, only results in information generated from official court proceedings, starting with an arraignment. The arraignment date usually takes place on the next business day following an arrest, or on another date in which the defendant is summonsed to appear before the judge. However, there are certain cases in which a person is arrested and the case is disposed of prior to arraignment (for a variety of reasons), so these cases would not show up on a background check. However, these cases WOULD show-up on any FBI-based check, since a suspect’s fingerprints are transmitted to the national database at the time he/she is booked at the police station following an arrest. As a result, if you are applying for a job as a school teacher in Massachusetts and have ever been arrested for any reason in the United States of America, you should be prepared for your potential employer to know of the charge(s), regardless of the eventual outcome of the case.

If you have a question relating to Massachusetts Criminal Laws, please contact my office for a free initial phone consultation:

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