State begins fingerprinting program for school employees


Massachusetts school districts have started fingerprinting teachers, administrators, bus drivers, and other employees to comply with a law Governor Deval Patrick signed on January 10. School superintendent James Weiss told The Times he has been working with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the company contracted to do the fingerprinting that will allow school employees to be fingerprinted on the Island.

The law authorizes the fingerprinting of public and private school employees, as well as child care workers at state-licensed centers, according to a report in the Boston Globe. The fingerprints will be submitted to the State Police for a state criminal history check and also forwarded to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for a national background check.

Previously, fingerprints were not required and only a state check was conducted through the Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) system, which will continue to be used. Those checks did not include any criminal history record information for crimes committed in other states.

The Massachusetts Department of Criminal Justice Information Services and other state agencies will use the information gleaned from the FBI’s background checks to prepare reports for school districts, according to the Globe report.

The state contracted with MorphoTrust in Billerica to take the fingerprints and submit them to the FBI. Fingerprinting centers have been set up in Beverly, Boston, Bourne, and Pittsfield, with more planned elsewhere. Cost is an issue, as licensed educators must pay a $55 processing fee and other employees $35, the Globe reported.

“While I do not anticipate covering the actual cost for staff, I do want to reduce the difficulties by having a site here on the Vineyard,” Mr. Weiss told The Times. “At present I am still considering two different locations and hope to have everything in place in a few weeks. It has not been an easy process, but I am positive that we will be able to help in this way.”