Beefing Up Background Checks

By: Brock Bergey Email
By: Brock Bergey Email

Employees who work closely with children are used to going through criminal background checks. Now, in some cases, volunteers are required to go through the same process.

40-thousand kids take part in programs and activities offered through MSCR, Madison School and Community Recreation.

"What the district has really tried to do is stop any problems before they start." Outreach manager Sharon Neylon says that involves pre-employment criminal background checks, and fingerprinting if the applicant has lived in another state in the last 5-years.

MSCR employs around 700 people, with another 500 donating their time.

"We feel if people are volunteering with youth it's the same as if they're getting paid or not," says Neylon.

So the application process is the same for anyone working directly with children.

"We have had people, yes, just not an appropriate fitting to be working with children or adults." Neylon says the process works---most of the time. " I don't think there's ever a 100-percent fail proof method," she adds.

Supervision, once an employee or volunteer is added to the staff, is a critical part to the equation. MSCR Sports Supervisor John Probst says parents need to be involved. "If something is inappropriate they'll let us know and anytime we hear anything like that we take appropriate action immediately."

Within a year, the Madison School District will have the ability to conduct nationwide background checks.

"Kind of the M-O on pedophiles is that they do this and move state to state," says Neylon.

Paper work is one thing. Judgment of character is another. But, public awareness may just be the best way to keep your kids safe under someone else's supervision.

"Every time we hear something like that internal at least we at a minimum re-evaluate what we are doing," says Probst.

An applicant's criminal background is considered as it relates to the job in question. Crimes involving drugs, alcohol, or physical altercations are the big three MSCR looks at. A crime like shoplifting, may be overlooked, especially if it happened several years ago.

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