Annual Background Checks for School Staff? 

11/21/2022 02:11 PM By Kayla Florence

Sex offender registries exist not to punish further or embarrass those convicted, but to prevent them from being involved in environments that may compromise the safety of others, like schools. An employee of Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) in Fairfax County, VA was able to avoid being detected as a convicted sex offender. As a result, parents are advocating for the protection of their children by suggesting annual background checks for school personnel who will be directly exposed to students.

As WJLA ABC7 News reports, a counselor at a middle school in the district was arrested by Chesterfield County Police in November 2020 for solicitation of prostitution from a minor. He continued to work at the school and was not revealed to be a convicted sex offender until he was fired in August 2022. 

A parent with three children in FCPS asserts, "I was surprised this arrest took place in 2020 and it didn't show up in an annual background check. And then I found out the school doesn't conduct annual background checks on employees and counselors." 

Though the employee registered as a sex offender in June, he was considered "self-employed" on the registry. 7News reports an attempt was made by the Chesterfield County Police to notify Fairfax County Public Schools of the sex offender employee by email. Records from that interaction show that the email failed to deliver. 

The Fairfax County Parents Association is now pushing for a new policy that mandates any employee who has one-on-one contact with children to go through an annual background check. In response to this idea, the superintendent of the district expresses, "We are exploring a variety of options, I think, as we move forward based on this third party report, review, and recommendations in terms of how me might mitigate a situation like this coming forward in the future." 

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