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September 16, 2022

Legislation to Streamline Educator Background Checks

“Over the past year, the Council has heard from teachers, prospective volunteers, community-based organizations, parents, and school leaders about the detrimental impacts arising from backlogs in the District’s processing of prospective teachers’ and volunteers’ applications. The intent of this legislation is to increase the efficiency of the educator and volunteer hiring process while ensuring the safety of our students. While a typical background check should take about 3 weeks, our current turnaround time is upwards of 3 months. This has affected our schools’ ability to recruit and hire critical staff such as substitute teachers, tutors, and programmatic staff,” said Councilmember Henderson.

For Immediate Release
September 19, 2022
Contact: Chantal Fuller, Communications Director

(202) 355-8431

cfuller@dccounncil.gov

Councilmember Christina Henderson Introduces Legislation to Streamline DCPS Staff and Volunteer Background Checks

Washington, DC- Today, Councilmember Christina Henderson introduced the Educator Background Check Streamlining Amendment Act of 2022. This legislation will revise the suitability screening process for individuals applying to work as a teacher or volunteer in schools and for educational programs in the District of Columbia. It addresses concerns identified by District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS), the Deputy Mayor for Education (DME), and Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) that delay staff and volunteer hiring processes.

“Over the past year, the Council has heard from teachers, prospective volunteers, community-based organizations, parents, and school leaders about the detrimental impacts arising from backlogs in the District’s processing of prospective teachers’ and volunteers’ applications. The intent of this legislation is to increase the efficiency of the educator and volunteer hiring process while ensuring the safety of our students. While a typical background check should take about 3 weeks, our current turnaround time is upwards of 3 months. This has affected our schools’ ability to recruit and hire critical staff such as substitute teachers, tutors, and programmatic staff,” said Councilmember Henderson.  

The Educator Background Check Streamlining Amendment Act of 2022 reforms the evaluation process to consider information relevant to an applicant’s suitability to supervise and care for DC students. This legislation revises the look back period of each applicant’s employment, requiring applicants to provide employment history for the longer of either the past 3employers or the past 7 years of employment involving direct supervision of children. It also requires child abuse and neglect registry checks in states that an applicant has lived or worked, adds the National Sex Offender Registry to the list of statutorily required reviews for each applicant, and updates the expungement statute so that the offenses that remain in the Child Protection Register are serious and substantiated findings.

“This legislation reinforces our commitment to providing safe learning environments for students while simultaneously ensuring that our classrooms and after-school programs are fully staffed in a timely manner by qualified personnel,” added Councilmember Henderson. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to strengthen protections for our students and to support the placement of eligible candidates in our schools.”

The Educator Background Check Streamlining Amendment Act of 2022 was co-introduced by Councilmembers Anita Bonds, Brianne K. Nadeau, and Robert White.

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