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Statement on Background Checks for Contractors Working in Schools
Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Superintendent issued a statement during the Montgomery County Board of Education meeting on November 11, 2014. The superintendent made the statement following concerns about the presence of outside contractors in MCPS buildings while students are present. Those concerns arose after an incident at John T. Baker Middle School in which the employee of an outside contractor was accused of making inappropriate contact with a student. The incident was quickly investigated and the employee of the contractor was arrested.
“Currently, contractors who hire employees and subcontractors that work in our buildings around our students are not required to conduct background checks.
“The recent incident at John T. Baker Middle School involving the employee of a contractor has convinced me that we need to require background checks for all employees and others in our contractors’ workforce if they have unsupervised or uncontrolled access to MCPS facilities when children are present.
“Currently, Section 11-772 of the Criminal Procedures Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland requires that contractors ensure that none of their employees or subcontractors are on the sex offenders’ registry. I do not believe this is sufficient or goes far enough. A background check should be completed to ensure that the employees of contractors meet the same standards required of school system employees. In the Baker incident, the contractor’s employee was not on the sex offenders’ registry and therefore met the current standard of state law. However, since he had been arrested, he might have been screened out.
“As a result of the Baker incident, all contractors are being requested to provide a letter of assurance by November 21, 2014, that their workforce is in compliance with Section 11-772 of the Criminal Procedures Article. They also are being reminded that it is their responsibility to provide updated information as their workforce changes.
“I also have asked staff to draft regulations that will require our contractors to do background checks and provide the results to MCPS requiring their workforce to meet the same standards that are required of our employees.
“Finally, as a result of this incident we are reviewing our internal procedures to make sure any allegations like that involving Baker are appropriately reported, investigated and communicated with the school community. In general, our schools do an excellent job when such issues arise so we will learn from this incident and work to improve.”
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