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ADDA

ADDA: BACKGROUND CHECKS 

It shall be the policy of the school district that, as required by law, a state and national fingerprint criminal background check will be conducted to determine the suitability of full or part time current and prospective school employees, who may have direct and unmonitored contact with children.  School employees shall include, but not be limited to any apprentice, intern, or student teacher or individuals in similar positions, who may have direct and unmonitored contact with children.  The School Committee shall only obtain a fingerprint background check for current and prospective employees for whom the School Committee has direct hiring authority.  In the case of an individual directly hired by a school committee, the Chair of the School Committee shall review the results of the national criminal history check.  The Superintendent shall also obtain a state and national fingerprint background check for any individual who regularly provides school related transportation to children.  The School Committee, Superintendent, or Principal, as appropriate, may obtain a state and national fingerprint criminal background check for any volunteer, subcontractor or laborer commissioned by the School Committee, school or employed by the city or town to perform work on school grounds, who may have direct and unmonitored contact with children.  School volunteers and subcontractors/laborers who may have direct and unmonitored contact with children must continue to submit state CORI checks.

The fee charged by the provider to the employee and educator for national fingerprint background checks will be $55.00 for school employees subject to licensure by DESE and $35.00 for other employees, which fee may from time to time be adjusted by the appropriate agency.  The employer shall continue to obtain periodically, but not less than every three years, from the department of criminal justice information services all available Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) for any current and prospective employee or volunteer within the school district who may have direct and unmonitored contact with children.

Direct and unmonitored contact with children is defined in DESE regulations as contact with a student when no other employee who has received a suitability determination by the school or district is present.  “Contact” refers to any contact with a student that provides the individual with opportunity for physical touch or personal communication.

This policy is applicable to any fingerprint-based state and national criminal history record check made for non-criminal justice purposes and requested under applicable federal authority and/or state statute authorizing such checks for licensing or employment purposes.  Where such checks are allowable by law, the following practices and procedures will be followed.

Requesting CHRI (Criminal History Record Information) checks

Fingerprint-based CHRI checks will only be conducted as authorized by state and federal law, in accordance with all applicable state and federal rules and regulations.  If an applicant or employee is required to submit to a fingerprint-based state and national criminal history record check he/she shall be informed of this requirement on the procedure for submitting fingerprints.  In addition, the applicant or employee will be provided with all information needed to successfully register for a fingerprint appointment.

Access to CHRI

All CHRI is subject to strict state and federal rules and regulations in addition to Massachusetts CORI laws and regulations.  CHRI cannot be shared with any unauthorized entity for any purposes, including subsequent hiring determinations.  All receiving entities are subject to audit by Massachusetts Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (DCJIS) and the FBI, and failure to comply with such rules and regulations could lead to sanctions.  Federal law and regulations provide that the exchange of records and information is subject to cancellation if dissemination is made outside of the receiving entity or related entities.  Furthermore, an entity can be charged criminally for the unauthorized disclosure of CHRI.

Storage of CHRI

CHRI shall only be stored for extended periods of time when needed for the integrity and/or utility of an individual’s personnel file.  Administrative, technical, and physical safeguards, which are in compliance with the most recent CJIS Security Policy have been implemented to ensure the security and confidentiality of CHRI.  Each individual involved in handling of CHRI is to familiarize himself/herself with these safeguards.

In addition to the above, each individual involved in the handling of CHRI will strictly adhere to the policy on the storage, retention and destruction of CHRI.

Retention and Destruction of CHRI

Federal law prohibits the repurposing or dissemination of CHRI beyond its initial requested purpose.  Once an individual’s CHRI is received, it will be securely retained in internal agency documents for the following purposes only:

            Historical referenced and/or comparison with future CHRI requests,

            Dispute of the accuracy of the record

            Evidence for any subsequent proceedings based on information contained in the CHRI.

CHRI will be kept for the above purposes in a secure location in the office of the Superintendent.  When no longer needed, CHRI and any summary of CHRI data must be destroyed by shredding paper copies and/or deleting all electronic copies from the electronic storage location, including any backup copies or files.  The shredding of paper copies of CHRI by an outside vendor must be supervised by and employee of the district.

CHRI Training

An informed review of criminal record requires training.  Accordingly, all personnel authorized to receive and/or review CHRI at the district will review and become familiar with the educational and relevant training materials regarding SAFIS and CHRI laws and regulations made available by the appropriate agencies, including the DCJIS.                                                                                                                                        

Determining Suitability

In determining and individual’s suitability, the following factors will be considered:  these factors may include, but not necessarily be limited to:  the nature and gravity of the crime and the underlying conduct, the time that has passed since the offense, conviction and/or completion of the sentence, nature of the position held or sought, age of the individual at the time of the offense, number of offenses, any relevant evidence of rehabilitation or lack thereof and any other factors deemed relevant by the district.

A record of the suitability determination will be retained.  The following information will be included in the determination:


            The name and date of birth of the employee or applicant;

            The date on which the school employer received the national criminal check results; and,

            The suitability determination (either “suitable” or “unsuitable”)

A copy of an individual’s suitability determination documentation must be provided to another school employer, or to the individual, upon request of the individual for whom the school employer conducted a suitability determination.

Relying on Previous Suitability Determination

The school employer may obtain and may rely on a favorable suitability determination from a prior employer, if the following criteria are met:

 

            The suitability determination was made within the last seven years; and       

The individual has not resided outside of Massachusetts for any period longer than three years since the suitability determination was made; and either

The individual has been employed continuously for one or more school employers or has gaps totaling no more than two years in his or her employment for school employers; or

If the individual works as a substitute employee, the individual is still deemed suitable for employment by the school employer who made a favorable suitability determination.  Upon request of another school employer, the initial school employer shall provide documentation that the individual is still deemed suitable for employment by the initial school employer. 

Adverse Decisions Based on CHRI

If inclined to make an adverse decision based on an individual’s CHRI, the district will take the following steps prior to making a final adverse determination:

            Provide the individual with a copy of his/her CHRI used in making the adverse decision;

            Provide the individual with a copy of this CHRI policy;   


Provide the individual the opportunity to complete or challenge the accuracy of his/her CHRI;

and

Provide the individual with information on the process for updating, changing, or correcting CHRI.

           

A final adverse decision based on an individual’s CHRI will not be made until the individual has been afforded a reasonable time depending on the particular circumstances not to exceed thirty days to correct or complete the CHRI.

Secondary Dissemination of CHRI

If an individual’s CHRI is released to another authorized entity, a record of that dissemination must be made in the secondary dissemination log.  The secondary dissemination log is subject to audit by the DCJIS and the FBI.

The following information will be recorded in the log:

            Subject Name;

            Subject Date of Birth;                                                                                                                        

            Date and Time of the dissemination

            Name of the individual to whom the information was provided;

            Name of the agency for which the requestor works;

            Contact information for the requestor; and

            The specific reason for the request.

Local Agency Security Officer

Each NCJA receiving CHRI is required to designate a Local Agency Security Officer (LASO).  An individual designated as LASO is:

 

·         An individual who will be considered part of the NCJA’s “authorized personnel” group.

·         An individual that has completed a fingerprint-based background check and found appropriate to have access to CHRI.

·         An employee directly involved in evaluating an individual’s qualifications for employment or assignment.

 

The Georgetown Public Schools LASO is Joan Liporto and Carol Jacobs.

The LASO is responsible for the following:

  • Identifying who is using or accessing CHRI and/or systems with access to CHRI.
  • Identifying and documenting any equipment connected to the state system.
  • Ensuring that personnel security screening procedures are being followed as stated in this policy.
  • Ensuring the approval and appropriate security measures are in place and working as expected.
  • Supporting policy compliance and ensuring the DCJIS Information Security Officer (ISO) is promptly informed of security incidents.


When changes in the LASO appointment occur, the Georgetown Public Schools shall complete and return a new LASO appointment form.  The most current copy of the LASO appointment form will be maintained on file indefinitely by the agency.

Personnel Security

All Personnel

All personnel requiring access to CHRI must first be deemed “Authorized Personnel.”  Prior to being allowed access to CHRI, such individuals shall complete a fingerprint-based CHRI background check.  The DCJIS will review and determine if access is appropriate.  Access is denied if the individual has ever had a felony conviction, of any kind, no matter when it occurred.  Access may be denied if the individual has one or more recent misdemeanor convictions.

In addition to the above, an individual believed to be a fugitive from justice, or having an arrest history without convictions, will be reviewed to determine if access to CHRI is appropriate.  The DCJIS will take into consideration extenuating circumstances where the severity of the offense and the time that has passed would support a possible variance.

Persons already having access to CHRI and who are subsequently arrested and/or convicted of a crime will:

 

a)      Have their access to CHRI suspended until the outcome of an arrest is determined and reviewed by the DCJIS in order to determine if continued access is appropriate.

b)      Have their access suspended indefinitely if a conviction results in a felony of any kind.

c)      Have their access denied by the DCJIS where it is determined that access to CHRI by the person would not be in the public’s best interest.

Whenever possible, access to CHRI by support personnel, contractors, and custodial workers will be denied.  If a need should arise for such persons to be in an area(s) where CHRI is maintained or processed (at rest or in transit); they will be escorted by, or be under the supervision of, authorized personnel at all times while in these area(s).

Personnel Screening for Contractors and Vendors

In addition to the screening requirements provided in the immediate preceding sections, contractors and vendors (persons with access to agency system hardware or software) shall undergo state and national fingerprint-based criminal record checks.

Access to systems containing CHRI will be denied if a felony conviction of any kind is found, if the individual is a fugitive from justice, or if he/she has any outstanding warrants.

Access will be delayed if the individual has any recent misdemeanor convictions until the LASO determines whether or not the conviction(s) warrant denial of access. Georgetown Public Schools will retain and keep current a list of personnel who have been authorized access to CHRI and make that list available to the DCJIS and to the FBI upon request.

Personnel Termination

The LASO shall terminate access to CHRI immediately upon notification of an individual’s termination of employment.

 

a)      Notification of the termination of employment will be done in writing only.

b)      Disconnection of the individual’s CHRI access and deactivation of district email will be complete within 24 hours.

c)      The terminated employee will be required to return all their door keys all security access badges immediately upon termination of employment.

In addition to the above, the LASO shall notify the DCJIS of the termination of any individual authorized to access CHRI who is also a SAFIS-R User.  This notification shall be made immediately upon the termination of the use and shall be accomplished by emailing a SAFIS-R User Designation Form the with “Remove” checkbox checked to the DCJIS SAFIS Unit at safis@state.ma.us.

Personnel Transfer

Individuals with access to CHRI who have been reassigned or transferred shall have their access reviewed by the LASO to ensure access is still appropriate.  If continued access is determined to be inappropriate, the LASO shall immediately suspend access following the steps below:

 

a)      Notification of the transfer of the employee will be done in writing only.

b)      Disconnection of the individual’s CHRI access and deactivation of district email will be complete within 24 hours only if it is determined that they shall not have further access to CHRI.  The transferred employee will be required to return the “Advanced Authentication” logon information to the Superintendent of Schools immediately.  

In addition to the above, the LASO shall notify the DCJIS of the transfer of any individual authorized to access CHRI who is also a SAFIS-R User and for whom it is determined that CHRI access is no longer appropriate.  This notification shall be made immediately upon the termination of the user and shall be accomplished by emailing a SAFIS-R User Designation Form with the “Remove” checkbox checked to the DCJIS SAFIS Unit at safis@state.ma.us.

Sanctions

Persons found non-compliant with state or federal laws, the current FBI CJIS Security Policy, DCJIS policies or regulations, or other applicable rules or regulations, including Georgetown Public Schools Information Security Policy, will be formally disciplined.  Discipline can include, but may not be limited to, counseling, the reassignment of CHRI responsibilities, dismissal, civil penalties, or prosecution.  Discipline will be based on the severity of the infraction and the discretion of Georgetown Public Schools and/or the CSO of the MSP.                                                                                                                                  


When an individual is sanctioned for such non-compliance, the LASO shall notify the DCJIS CSO in writing of the infraction(s) and of the discipline imposed within 5 business days.  Additionally, if the discipline imposed includes denying access to CHRI and the individual is also a SAFIS-R User, the LASO shall immediately notify the DCJIS by emailing a SAFIS-R User Designation Form with the “Remove” checkbox checked to the DCJIS SAFIS Unit at state@ma.us.

Media Protection

All media containing CHRI is to be protected and secured at all times.  The following is established and to be implemented to ensure the appropriate security, handling, transporting, and storing of CHRI media in all its forms.

Media Storage and Access

Electronic and physical CHRI media shall be securely stored within physically secured locations or controlled areas.  Access to such media is restricted to authorized personnel only and shall be secured at all times when not in use or under the supervision of an authorized individual.

Physical CHRI media:

a)                  Is to be stored within employee records when feasible or by itself when necessary.

b)                  Is to be maintained within a lockable filing cabinet, drawer, closet, office, safe, vault, or other secure container.

Electronic CHRI media:

a)                  Is to be secured through encryption as specified in the FBI CJIS Security Policy.

b)                  Electronic storage media devices (such as discs, CDs, SDs, thumb drives, DVDs, etc.) are to be maintained within a lockable filing cabinet, drawer, closet, office, safe, or vault, or other secure container.

 

Media in Transit (Electronic and/or Physical)

Should the need arise to move any form of CHRI media, including physical CHRI media (paper/hard copies) and electronic CHRI media (e.g., laptops, computer hard drives, or any removable, transportable digital memory media, such as magnetic tape or disk, optical disk, flash drives, external hard drives, or digital memory card), outside the secured location or controlled area, the transport of the CHRI media will be conducted by authorized personnel only.

Georgetown Public Schools has established an implemented the following security controls to prevent compromise of the data while in transit:

a.)    The Georgetown Public School’s LASO will handle and accompany the transport via a locked container (file cabinet) only when authorized by the LASO or Superintendent of Schools.

 

Electronic Media Sanitization and Disposal

Once electronic CHRI media is determined to be no longer needed by the agency, it shall be sanitized and disposed of appropriately.  This includes, but is not limited to, devices used to store electronic CHRI and/or used for dissemination (fax machines, scanners, computers, laptops, etc.)  The devices shall be sanitized prior to disposal, recycling, or reuse by other non-authorized personnel.

The sanitization of CHRI media will be conducted in the following manner:

a.)    Georgetown Public School’s  Director of Technology will destroy the hard drives of all media that hold CHRI information.  He/She will further direct all vendors of copy machines, fax machines, scanner’s and other office devices to destroy said hard drives prior to disabling/return/upgrades to newer machines.

 

Disposal of Physical Media

 

Once physical media (paper/hard copies) is determined to be no longer needed by the agency, it shall be destroyed and disposed of appropriately.  Physical CHRI media shall be destroyed by shredding, cross cut shredding, or incineration.  Georgetown Public Schools will ensure such destruction is witnessed or carried out by authorized personnel.

a.)    Every month after three years, each expired CORI will be shredded by the LASO using a cross-cut shredder located in the Superintendent’s Office. 

Incident Response

The security of information and systems in general, and of CHRI in particular, is a top priority for Georgetown Public Schools.  Therefore, we have established operational incident handling procedures for instances of an information security breach.  It is each individual’s responsibility to adhere to established security guidelines and policies and to be attentive to situations and incidents which pose risks to security.  Furthermore, it is each individual’s responsibility to immediately report potential or actual security incidents to minimize any breach of security or loss of information.  The following security incident handling procedures must be followed by each individual:

a.)    The incident will immediately be reported to the LASO and Superintendent of Schools.  All pertinent information regarding the breach will be shared with the Superintendent of Schools in order to analyze the security processes.

In addition to the above, the LASO shall report all security-related incidents to the DCJIS ISO with 48 hours.  The LASO shall complete an NCJA Security Incident Report Form and shall email it to the DCJIS ISO at safis-state.ma.us.

Controlled Area                                                                                                                      

 

As required by DCJIS and FBI regulations and policies, controls have been established an implemented in order to ensure a physically secured location for CHRI materials.  Georgetown Public Schools has designated the Superintendent’s Office as a controlled area for the purpose of day to day access and storage of CHRI.

In addition, the following security controls are in place:

a)      Access is limited to the controlled area during CHRI processing times to authorized personnel approved by the agency to access or view CHRI.

b)      CHRI will be locked and secured to prevent unauthorized access to the extent possible when unattended.

c)      Information system devices and documents containing CHRI will be positioned in such a way as to prevent access or viewing by unauthorized individuals.

d)     Appropriate encryption has been implemented for electronic storage of CHRI.

Reporting to Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education

 

Pursuant to state law and regulation, if the district dismisses, declines to renew the employment of, obtains the resignation of, or declines to hire a licensed educator or an applicant for a Massachusetts educator license because of information discovered through a state or national criminal record check, the district shall report such decision or action to the Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education in writing within 30 days of the employer action or educator resignation.  The report must include a copy of the criminal record check results.  The school employer shall notify the employee or applicant that it has made a report pursuant to regulations to the Commissioner and shall also send a copy of the criminal record check results to the employee or applicant.

C.O.R.I REQUIREMENTS

It shall be the policy of the district to obtain all available Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) from the department of criminal justice information services of prospective employee(s) or volunteer(s) of the school department including any individual who regularly provides school related transportation to children, who may have direct and unmonitored contact with children, prior to hiring the employee(s) or to accepting any person as a volunteer.  State law requires that school districts obtain CORI data for employees of taxicab companies that have contracted with the schools to provide transportation to pupils.                                                                                                                                         

The Superintendent, Principal, or their certified designees shall periodically, but not less than every three years, obtain all available Criminal Offender Record Information from the department of criminal justice informational services on all employees, individuals who regularly provide school related transportation to children, including taxicab company employees, and volunteers who may have direct and unmonitored contact with children, during their term of employment or volunteer services. 

                                                                                                                                 

The Superintendent, Principal, or their certified designees may also have access to Criminal Offender Record Information for any subcontractor or laborer who performs work on school grounds, and who may have direct and unmonitored contact with children, and shall notify them of this requirement and comply with the appropriate provisions of this policy.

Pursuant to a Department of Education regulation, “Direct and unmonitored contact with children” means contact with students when no other employee, for whom the employer has made a suitability determination of the school or district, is present.  “Contact” refers to any contact with a student that provides the individual with opportunity for physical touch or personal communication.  The school employer may determine when there is potential for direct and unmonitored contact with children by assessing the circumstances and specific factors including, but not limited to, whether the individual will be working in proximity with students, the amount of time the individual will spend on school grounds, and whether the individual will be working independently or with others.  An individual shall not be considered to have the potential for direct and unmonitored contact with children if he or she has only the potential for incidental unsupervised contact in commonly used areas of the school grounds.”

In accordance with state law, all current and prospective employees, volunteers, and persons regularly providing school related transportation to children of the school district shall sign an acknowledgement form authorizing receipt by the district of all available CORI data from the department of criminal justice information services.  In the event that a current employee has a question concerning the signing of the acknowledgement form, he/she may meet with the Principal or Superintendent; however, failure to sign the CORI acknowledgement form may result in a referral to local counsel for appropriate action.  Completed acknowledgement forms must be kept in secure files.  The School Committee, Superintendent, Principals or their designees certified to obtain information under the policy, shall prohibit the dissemination of school information for any purpose other than to further the protection of school children.

CORI is not subject to the public records law and must be kept in a secure location, separate from personnel files and may be retained for not more than three years.  CORI shall be shared with the individual to whom it pertains, pursuant to law, regulation and the following model policy, and in the event of an inaccurate report the individual should contact the department of criminal justice informational services.

Access to CORI material must be restricted to those individuals certified to receive such information.  In the case of prospective employees or volunteers, CORI material should be obtained only where the Superintendent had determined that the applicant is qualified and may forthwith be recommended for employment or volunteer duties.

The hiring authority, subject to applicable law and the model policy, reserves the exclusive right concerning any employment decision.                                                                                                                        

The Superintendent shall ensure that on the application for employment and/or volunteer form there shall be a statement that as a condition of the employment or volunteer service the school district is required by law to obtain Criminal Offender Record Information for any employee, individual who regularly provides transportation, or volunteer who may have direct and unmonitored contact with children.  Current employees, persons regularly providing school related transportation, and volunteers shall also be informed in writing by the Superintendent prior to the periodic obtaining of their Criminal Offender Record Information.

The Superintendent shall amend employment applications to include questions concerning criminal records which the Massachusetts Commission against Discrimination has determined may be legally asked of prospective employees.  Any employment application which seeks information concerning prior arrests or convictions of the applicant shall include the following statement:  “An applicant for employment with a sealed record on file with the commission of probation may answer “no record” with respect to an inquiry herein relative to prior arrests or criminal court appearances.  In addition, any applicant for employment may answer “no record” with respect to any inquiry relative to prior arrests, court appearances and adjudications in all cases of delinquency or as a child in need of service which did not result in a complain transferred to the superior court for criminal prosecution.”

Records sealed pursuant to law shall not operate to disqualify a person in any examination, appointment or application for public service on behalf of the Commonwealth or any political subdivision thereof.

The Superintendent shall revise contracts with special education schools and other providers to require a signed statement that the provider has met all legal requirements of the state where it is located relative to criminal background checks for employees and others having direct and unmonitored contact with children.

 

LEGAL REFS:           M.G.L. 167-178; 15D7-8; 71:38R, 151B, 276:100A

                                    P.L. 92-544; Title 28 U.S.C. § 534; Title 28 C.F.R. 20.33(b)

                                    42 U.S.C. § 16962

                                    603 CMR 51.00

                                    803 CMR 2.00

                                    803 CMR 3.05 (Chapter 149 of the Acts of 2004)

                                    FBI Criminal Justice Information Services Security Policy

                                    Procedure for correcting a criminal background

                                    FAQ – Background Checks

SOURCE:       MASC May 2014

 

NOTE:  The Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (DCJIS) has adopted regulations requiring that it maintain a model CORI policy and that any written policy must meet the minimum standards as found in the model.  Therefore, MASC recommends that school districts retain both the school district policy incorporated here and the DCJIS model policy attached as ADDA-R.

Reviewed on:  October 8, 2015                                                                                             

Reviewed on:  June 9, 2016                                                                                         

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