The Texas Education Agency (TEA) today announced that a majority of the state’s school districts and charters have certified compliance with a state law requiring fingerprinting and criminal background checks for all certified educators. Under the 2007 legislation, all employees (both certified and non-certified), as well as substitute teachers, must be fingerprinted before their first day of employment.
In October of this year, TEA notified Texas superintendents asking them to certify that their district or charter school has complied with the state fingerprinting law. In addition, TEA (working with regional education service centers across the state) reached out to those districts and charters that failed to reply by the Nov. 20 deadline.
To date, TEA has received certification from all school districts and charters, except Brownfield ISD, Cumberland Academy (Tyler), La Gloria ISD and Penelope ISD.
School employees required to submit fingerprints for a criminal background check under state law include: all certified educators; all substitute teachers and aides (certified or not); non-certified employees hired on or after Jan. 1, 2008; charter school teachers and other professionals (serving in a position that would require certification if they were employed in a traditional school district); and contract employees hired after Jan. 1, 2008 who have direct contact with students.
State law requires the dismissal of any employee convicted of certain felonies or who is a registered sex offender. If an employee has a criminal history and resigns or is discharged, the district must immediately notify the Texas Education Agency. If a school district or charter knows or should have known through a criminal history record information review that an employee or applicant has been convicted of certain offenses (and the educator retains the employee or hires the applicant), the State Board of Educator Certification (SBEC) may impose a sanction on the educator. Those districts and charters failing to submit annual certification of state fingerprinting requirements may be subject to an investigation of the superintendent or chief operating officer who has violated state law by failing to complete the certification.
To learn more about fingerprinting requirements in Texas for schools districts and charters, visit the TEA web website at: http://tea.texas.gov/Texas_Educators/Certification/Fingerprinting/.