House Passes Extensive Background Check Bill, Prohibiting Wide Range of Ex-Cons from Working in Public Schools

Credit: deflam / Foter / CC BY-NCCredit: deflam / Foter / CC BY-NCThe House of Representatives approved a bill that aims to implement extensive background checks for anyone working in public schools. Although the bill was largely unopposed, aspects of it raise eyebrows.

Yesterday, a voice vote passed H.R. 2083, or The Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act. The bill, which now moves on to the Senate, would require an extensive background check of anyone who works in a public school. Administrators would be required to comb through the FBI fingerprint database, the National Sex Offender Registry, and local registries. For good measure, H.R. 2083 would require periodically re-checking peoples' background. Refusing to consent to the background check would automatically disqualify an individual from working not just as a teacher, but as any professional in the school who may have unsupervised contact with students. This would range from administrators, to cafeteria workers, custodians, and even contractors.

Furthermore, although the H.R. 2083 is touted largely as a means of protecting children from sexual predators, the bill casts a wide net that includes many whose crimes have nothing to do with hurting kids. Also prohibited from working in schools would be individuals convicted of child pornography crimes (which, as Reason's Jacob Sullum has pointed out, are not as indicative of other sexual crimes as conventional wisdom would have it), as well as spousal abusers, arsonists, and drug-related offenders.

The overwhelming sentiment is that the law must be passed for the children. The Associated Press quotes Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), the bill's chief sponsor, as saying, “Keeping children safe is not a partisan issue. It’s a moral obligation.” Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.) reiterated the sentiment in a press release. The Hill lauded the bill as an opportunity for the House to “practice the long-forgotten art of working together.”

However, not all representatives believe this will be an effective measure. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) hopes to alter the bill, because he is hesitant about “imposing lifetime bans and ignoring the ability of people to overcome criminal backgrounds.” Again, Jacob Sullum has extensively covered the issues of recidivism and restricting convicts ability to reintigrate into society.

The National Education Association (NEA) also voiced a two-pronged opposition to the bill. In a letter to Congress, the NEA suggested that background checks would disproportionately impact racial minorities. They also pointed out that “H.R. 2083, while well intentioned, may run counter to existing state laws.”

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  • BuSab Agent||

    So they're going to fire all gym teachers everywhere?! Cool.

  • Tonio||

    Sure, those background checks are a good idea. And, sure, it's reasonable for congress to pass enabling legislation allowing the federal government to send the records (or, more often, confirmation that there is no record) of individuals who have properly released their information to prospective schools, or the state police in that state, or something.

    But the federal government has no place in mandating the details of how the states and localities edumucate teh chirrun.

  • Robert||

    But their hook is the state's ed system receiving federal funds under the Elementary & Secondary Education Act of 1965.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Has their been a number of convict/school worker attacks recently?

  • AlmightyJB||

    They'll still run for re-election on the "we made schools safer" platform. Even though they didn't really.

  • AlmightyJB||

    All the school sex case I see anymore are hot young girl teachers. Which really is just another thing that makes me regret being old.

  • Paul.||

    If had a better functioning justice system, Eliot Spitzer couldn't get within 1000' of a school.

  • Paul.||

    Although the bill was largely unopposed, aspects of it raise eyebrows.

    And really, aside from Teafuckers and the NRA, who would oppose reasonable background checks for people working with our children?

  • Paul.||

    The National Education Association (NEA) also voiced a two-pronged opposition to the bill. In a letter to Congress, the NEA suggested that background checks would disproportionately impact racial minorities.

    I'm sorry, this one makes me laugh a little bit. But just run with me on this: The Congress passes a bill trying to keep sexual predators out of school, and the NEA says it's unfair because it would disqualify minorities. When does your opposition to all things racist become racist?

  • AlmightyJB||

    Yeah, that is something else. Typical though.

  • playa manhattan||

    Diversity is more important than child molestation. Or something.

  • playa manhattan||

    *SLD: This law will do nothing to prevent child molestation.

  • Paul.||

    Sometimes the "Women and minorities" trope backfires, badly.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    NRA is picking up progressive talking points.

    Remember that chain store that screened out convicted criminals? The US Justice Dept said this was discriminatory, because black people are overrepresented among convicts. As if that were the store's fault! If the DoJ wanted to look for someone to blame for all these convictions, why not look in a mirror?

  • Jordan||

    Um, that's the NEA, not the NRA.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    OK, it was the EEOC, not the Justice Dept

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    I mistook the NEA for the NRA, and I confused the EEOC with the Justice Dept.

    I will correct there errors, or my name isn't Napoleon Bonaparte!

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/su.....y-careful/

  • Hyperion||

    Anything that congress passes that claims to be 'for the children' has to be bad. We've learned that lesson repeatedly already.

    I have a better solution. Eliminate the DOE and don't send your kids to public schools.

  • R C Dean||

    Can anyone point me to the enumerated power that authorizes this?

  • Jordan||

    The FYTW Clause.

  • Robert||

    It's a condition of receiving the money they've been getting since 1965 from the feds.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Let's see, using a broad interpretation of the spending power to get around the Constitution's ban on ex post facto laws - increasing the punishment for a crime after the crime was committed - it's good to be the Congress.

  • Robert||

    I don't mind that they make their spending contingent on cooperation, because that's another chance to reduce spending; if a state doesn't go along with this, they don't get the money, reducing the fed'l deficit. And they don't consider it to be a punishment for a crime for someone not to employ a past criminal, because you're allowed to discriminate against former criminals.

  • ||

    The Congress passes a bill trying to keep sexual predators out of school, and the NEA says it's unfair because it would disqualify minorities.

    But it's not just sex offenses. Look at the bill text; it includes any felony "drug-related offense" committed within 5 years of the check.

    It also includes

    has been convicted of any other crime that is a violent or sexual crime against a minor

    which is not restricted to felonies nor is it time-limited. IANAL but I imagine that could be stretched pretty far (e.g., IIUC public urination in the presence of a minor could be a "sexual crime against a minor").

    The list of offenses is on page 3 of the linked PDF.

  • Drake||

    They are claiming this authority from? Interstate Commerce?

  • JidaKida||

    lol, silly laws are for honest folk lol.

    www.AnonBliss.tk

  • C. Anacreon||

    Where's that picture from? It looks almost identical to my 3rd grade class photo from suburban Chicago in the late 60's.

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