Audit: Michigan's education department falls short on background checks
The audit released Tuesday determined the department is failing to meet its oversight responsibilities to ensure schools aren’t hiring people with some types of felony convictions to work with children.
School workers are required by state law to clear a criminal background check with a fingerprint check run through a Michigan State Police database. The audit found about 4% of contract workers were not fingerprinted and even more were not fingerprinted “in a timely fashion.” The agency’s inquiry looked at 5,010 hired workers in 41 school districts.
Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature said they were still digesting the contents of the report.
Amber McCann is the press secretary for the House Democratic majority, who said the said the findings are “very concerning.”
“The safety and security of students is of the utmost importance and the House Democratic caucus,” she said. “While we haven’t had the chance to review the report in detail, we’ll be taking a strong look at what came of the report.”
“There should be no question that our top priority has to be keeping our kids safe,” he said. “And I find this absolutely appalling, especially given the history we’ve had in the past several decades of abuse and different things going on in our schools. We have to jump on this right away.”
The Department of Education agreed with some of the findings, but took issue with much of the report.
“A number of the Auditor General’s findings require a change in state law and we’re willing to work with the Legislature to ensure that,” said Martin Ackley with the Michigan Department of Education. He said there are multiple agencies that play a role in school worker background checks, including the Michigan State Police, and it is primarily up to school districts to vet prospective workers.
“It’s the utmost priority of the Michigan Department of Education that students are safe and secure and we rely on our partners to achieve that goal,” he said.
Non-commercial, fact based reporting is made possible by your financial support. Make your donation to WEMU todayto keep your community NPR station thriving.