Tuesday it was announced that Charlotte Mecklenburg teachers had been given a form to sign allowing background, criminal and credit checks. They were ordered to sign it by Friday or their employment would be terminated.
CMS intended to use the form to allow updated criminal background checks, but the form permitted much more and teachers weren't happy. From the Charlotte Observer:
Tuesday, Charlotte-Mecklenburg School employees were told to sign forms allowing the district to investigate their finances, background, character and "mode of living."
These forms were delivered without warning to CMS employees. According to the Observer the additional background checks were prompted after an elementary school teacher was discovered shooting heroine in the classroom.
Keeping students and staff safe is a good priority to have. Additional background checks may very well be warranted, but how the need is communicated to staff is key when requiring employees to give up their privacy in order to keep their jobs.
Teachers were understandably upset. There was a public outcry and this morning, after only one day, CMS has told staff they can ignore the form. Here's what Superintendent Peter Gorman had to say:
"When you make a mistake, the best thing to do is just admit it," he wrote. "While the decision to start random background checks for current employees was made with the best of intentions - to keep our students and staff safe -- we dropped the ball, big time, in terms of communication and execution."
Periodic criminal background checks are probably necessary, especially in a massive school district like CMS. When I applied to be a substitute, I had no problem complying with the drug testing and background checks that were performed, especially since I was working with children. What do you think?
What about the people who volunteer in schools? As a volunteer at CMS I had to provide a reference or two (I can't remember how many). Union County school volunteers go through an even more extensive vetting process. How much is too much? How little is too little?