Please ensure that your personnel who oversee background checks are advised of this Commissioner’s Memo.
As a result of ACT 1040 of 2019, the following important changes to background checks went into effect on July 24, 2019:
- Classified employees must complete a background check once every five years.
- The Division of Elementary and Secondary Education must inform the school district of the affected applicant’s employability status within 30 days of receiving the results of the criminal records background check and the Child Maltreatment Central Registry.
There are three types of checks that make up a background check. All three are required for a background check to be complete.
- The Arkansas State Police criminal records check
- The Federal Bureau of Investigation criminal records check
- The Child Maltreatment Central Registry check
The guidance provided below is to assist districts and help them come in compliance with ACT 1040 by June 30, 2024. Districts may come in to compliance before the deadline, but districts must be in compliance within five years. Guidance is as follows:
- School districts should review when ALL district classified staff completed their last background check. Districts may check when an employee completed their last background check by checking the Arkansas Educator Licensure System website. The website is found at http://adeaels.arkansas.gov/AelsWeb/Search.aspx
- A district that has classified employees who have not had a background check within the last five years must develop a written plan that details how it will ensure that classified employees will meet the requirements of ACT 1040 of 2019 within the next five years.The written plan must include:
- The number of classified employees who have never had a completed background check; and
- The number of classified employees who have had a completed background check but just not within the last five years; and
- A written description of how the district will ensure all employees meet the requirement within the next five years, including the persons responsible for monitoring background checks for new and existing personnel.
The written plan must be uploaded into the Standards for Accreditation System prior to October 1, 2019.
- Classified employees hired prior to 2009 were not required to have a Child Maltreatment Central Registry background check as a condition of employment; therefore, this is the first group that a district must schedule to complete required checks. All classified employees hired prior to 2009, who have never had a complete background check must have one completed by June 30, 2020.
- Employees hired prior to 2009 who were required by their district to have a complete background check at a later date, but have not had a complete background check within the last five years, should be placed on a plan to complete a background check within the next five years.
- All classified employees hired after 2009, who have not had a complete background check within the last five years, must be scheduled to have required checks according to the district’s plan as referenced above. Districts should ensure that existing employees fully comply with background checks within five years, by June 30, 2024. It is recommended that at least 20% of employees meeting these criteria be scheduled for background checks annually to meet this deadline.
- New hires are required to have a background check as a condition of employment. Districts should develop a process to ensure that all classified staff complete a background check once every five years. Districts should review this process annually and document the process as part of their records retention.
- Once the background check is completed, the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education will notify the District within 30 days if the applicant is not eligible for employment. The Division will only send written notice when an employee is not eligible for employment. The letter will be sent to the superintendent and the business manager/human resources office for the district. Districts can check the employability status of any employee online at the Arkansas Educator Licensure System website found at http://adeaels.arkansas.gov/AelsWeb/Search.aspx
For general questions about background checks contact Ms. Jennifer Link at 501-682-5729.