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INFORMATIONAL LETTER NO: 26
POLICY CODE: GCF
TO: Superintendents of Schools
FROM: J. Duke Albanese
DATE: October 2, 2000
RE: Status of Criminal Records Checks
I am writing to let you know that we will not be informing all of the individuals who have been fingerprinted about the status of their criminal history records check by the 20th day of their work year. The Departments of Education and Public Safety have been working very hard to meet this deadline but we now recognize that it is not achievable. The July 2000 implementation date for this requirement was established to give the two departments 12 months to complete this task, and we are trying to do it in 3 months. I am pleased to report that there have been no major problems in processing records, but the delay in starting the review process and the tremendous volume of records to be reviewed have caused a delay in reporting results to individuals.
Employees can continue to work under certain conditions.
At this time we anticipate that by November 15 we will be completely caught up on the backlog of the first 12 months of fingerprinting. In the meanwhile, if an employee has both 1) applied to the Department of Education and 2) been fingerprinted by the Department of Public Safety, it is all right for a Superintendent to employ that individual until these two departments can complete processing the individual. The responsibility of the Superintendent is to be sure each employee either holds a current license (certificate, authorization or approval), or has both sent in the application and been fingerprinted.
Employees should be fingerprinted in the year required and NOT before.
Please advise all personnel to be fingerprinted in the year prior to the date on their card, and not earlier. One unit reported to us that all personnel had been directed to be printed in August, even though some are not required to be done for up to four years. Contracted
service providers and substitutes are not required to be fingerprinted until July 2002, but many are choosing to be fingerprinted early. For us to be able to help individuals meet the requirement to be processed prior to their 20th day of work, as of October 1 the State Police at the fingerprinting details will be turning away individuals in the approval category unless they were hired since September 1. This means that substitutes and contracted providers will be turned away, and all individuals in the approval category who began work in their current district prior to July 1, 2000.
Approval employees should apply to DOE BEFORE being fingerprinted.
At this time, far more individuals in the approval category have been fingerprinted than should have been in this first year of implementation. We have not been able to send out phase-in temporary approvals since we are waiting to find out who has already been fingerprinted. In the meanwhile thousands of these individuals have been fingerprinted, even if they have not even sent an application to the Department of Education for approval. We cannot issue a license until the individual applies to the Department. Please ask personnel in the approval category if they have sent an application to the Department. The application form is printed in purple. Every regular employee in the approval category (not substitutes or contracted service providers) must apply to the Department right away. We will respond as follows:
1. Individuals who have applied, been fingerprinted and passed the records check: we will issue a five-year approval card.
2. Individuals who have applied, been fingerprinted but did not pass the records check: we will inform individuals that they are denied approval to work in a school and provide a statement of their rights regarding appeal.
3. Individuals who have applied and not been fingerprinted: we will issue a temporary approval card which specifies the date by which they must be fingerprinted and meet the records check requirement. Given the number already fingerprinted this year, all of these temporary chards will be dated July 2002 or later.
We are looking for better ways to schedule regional fingerprinting sites.
Please express our apologies on behalf of the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Education for individuals who were turned away from the session in Portland in August and from the session in Bangor a few weeks ago. Scheduling people for fingerprinting has become a major challenge this year, when there are no longer enough people to go to every site. The challenge is to avoid either long lines with individuals turned away if too many people show up at a site, or not enough people to fill the available time if too few people show up. I recommend that until we can get a scheduling system in place, individuals who must be fingerprinted this year should wait a few months to be done. The State Police are looking into creating an on-line scheduling system, but this would not be in place for several months. We are trying to estimate how many people need to be fingerprinted in each region this year, but this will be difficult until all of the employees in the approval category have sent an application to the Department of Education. Sessions will be available regionally every month. The date and location of these sessions will be posted on line with the capacity of the fingerprint detail that will be available.
-- Please note that this letter has been redacted to remove statistical information that has been determined by the Attorney General to be confidential, in an opinion letter dated February 13, 2001.