News & Resources

Employers may not have known teacher''s criminal past

Feb 16, 2011 Matt Roesly

A Massachusetts high school teacher who was fired for allegedly hitting a student may have been hired before administrators knew his criminal background. Elbert Foster was working as a long-term substitute teacher in Weymouth, Massachusetts, when he got into a physical fight with a 14-year-old student, The Patriot Ledger reports. Though he submitted to a background check, it is unclear if administrators knew Foster had pending assault charges before he started working at Weymouth High School. The commonwealth's Department of Education requires all educators to submit to a criminal offender record information check before they begin teaching elementary and secondary school students. However, a spokesman for Massachusetts' education department could not answer whether the law requires officials to actually view the results of a check before an applicant starts teaching, the paper reported.  Legislation on how employers conduct background and credit checks and use the information varies by state. Illinois recently joined Hawaii, Oregon and Washington in restricting the use of credit histories in hiring decisions, Employment Screening Resources reports. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, if an employer denies a job applicant based on his or her credit history, that information must be revealed to the potential hire.