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Background checks for all school employees, not just teachers & bus drivers

Legislators in both the House and Senate agree all school employees should be subject to background checks.

The House approved a bill on Tuesday to accomplish that goal. Senate Democrats tacked the same proposal onto another bill that passed the Senate last night.

Senator Rob Hogg says private companies already have the authority to conduct background checks, but since everyone who works in a school is a public employee, the legislature has to pass a law requiring background checks.

“So on these employees, we’ve said all school employees should have a sex offender registry check, a child abuse check and a dependent adult abuse check,” Hogg says.

Those are all state-maintained lists and neither the House nor the Senate are requiring nationwide checks. Existing Iowa law requires school teachers to submit fingerprints that are checked against national criminal record. A couple of years ago legislators passed another law that requires background checks for school bus drivers.

“We decided rather than doing it occupation by occupation, we should just say all school employees (are subject to background checks),” Hogg says.

There’s another effort in the legislature to require background checks for another profession. Hogg and his fellow Democrats in the Senate are proposing that anyone who is a convicted sex offender be barred from working in “motor-vehicle-based businesses” that sell food primarily marketed to children.

“It makes clear that sex offenders shouldn’t apply for jobs with ice cream truck vendors that are driving around our neighborhoods,” Hogg says.

The House and Senate have been quarreling for three years about the proper way to ensure convicted sex offenders are prevented from working as ice cream truck vendors. This background check alternative that Democrats now propose is included in a bill that deals with a host of issues ranging from a new tax break for off-duty police officers who get a superior’s approval to a proposed hike in the registration fees for electric cars.