Local education advocate upset over recent background checks for SCS employees

Several SCS employees dismissed possibly due to new state law

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A new state law has led to the dismissal of several Shelby County Schools employees, according to an education advocate.

The background check law went into effect this year, and while it's meant to keep children safe, some say it's unfair to teachers.

The state law, passed in 2018, requires fingerprints and background checks for staff before they're hired and at least every five years for employees working in close proximity to students.

This includes teachers, bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria workers grounds keepers and childcare providers.

Keith Williams with the Memphis Shelby County Education Association says it has led to several SCS employees losing their jobs.

Something he says is unfair.

"This law has a very strong and very lengthy gravitas to it. Going back, identifying things that happened when people were in college 20-30 years ago and bringing down to labor to question them about those things, and some people... a few people, I understand, have lost their positions to teach in this district,” said Keith Williams, Memphis Shelby County Education Association executive director.

According to a memo sent from the Tennessee Department of Education in July 2018, criminal history records checks were only required by law in 2000.

That means some school districts might have employees hired before 2000 who have never had a criminal history records check.

"One instance is very clear to me that comes to my mind that happened when a young lady was in college. Now that's 20 years ago, why would you go back and retry that that's been a finding, there's been a correction - a stellar record in the district. Why would you bother a person like that,” said Williams.

Williams says he thinks the Shelby County School district is over reporting background checks.

He says the Memphis Shelby County Education Association's legal team is looking into the fairness and legitimacy of this law.

SCS released the following statement:

“SCS employees received information about the new law changes, including specific warning that failing to comply with the fingerprint mandate is unlawful and could lead to a Labor Relations review.”

Copyright 2019 WMC. All rights reserved.