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INFORMATIONAL LETTER NO:  33

 

POLICY CODE:  GCF

 

TO:         Superintendents of Schools

 

FROM:      J. Duke Albanese

 

DATE:    November 30, 2000

 

RE:             Full Implementation of Criminal History Records Checks

 

We are now at the point in processing fingerprint records where we have completed almost all of the individuals needing to be licensed this year.   

      

Superintendent’s Responsibility to Verify Certification or Authorization of Employees

By December 1, everyone employed using a certificate that expired 7/1/00 or an authorization that expires 2/1/01 should have received the renewal license including CHRC.  Please ask all of your 7/1/00 and 2/1/01 renewals for a copy of their licenses, if you have not already done so.  For anyone in this category who cannot produce a license, either the employee, the superintendent, or the personnel officer should contact the Certification Office with the name and social security number of the employee to determine the employee’s status by one of three means: 

 

1)      Call 287-5944

2)      Call the Department receptionist at 287-5800

3)      E-mail to nancy.ibarguen@state.me.us

 

Superintendent’s Responsibility to Verify Approval of Regular Employees

During December we plan to issue temporary approval cards to all regular employees in the approval category who have not already been fingerprinted.  We will confirm in a later e-mail that by January 2, 2001, everyone employed in the approval category should have received an approval card.  Some cards will indicate that the individual has met the CHRC and the rest of the cards will indicate the date by which the CHRC must be met.  We expect that most of the individuals who have been cleared but have not applied for a license are in this category.  By January 2 for anyone in the approval category who cannot produce a license the same steps should be taken as described for certificates and authorizations above.

 

Approval of Substitutes and Contracted Providers

During the spring of 2001 we will develop a process to identify all substitutes and contracted providers so we can plan for fingerprinting them during the 2001-2002 school year.

 

DOE Response to Calls About License Status

Remember that if the reason an individual has been denied a license is because of the CHRC, we cannot give you any information about the conviction history.  Depending on our response on an individual’s status, the following action must be taken by the District:

IF DOE RESPONSE TO YOUR CALL IS:                        TAKE THIS ACTION:

1)      The individual has not applied for a license            Give the individual an application to be completed and returned to DOE right away.

2)      The individual has been fingerprinted but             No action necessary.

      not yet processed.

3)      The individual has been issued a license            Ask the individual for a copy as soon as it is received.

4)      The individual has applied, has been            End employment immediately.

      processed, and is not licensed.

 

Prohibition Against Early Fingerprinting

Once again, please do not require individuals to be fingerprinted sooner than the law requires. 

The only people to be fingerprinted between now and 7/1/01 are:

·        Individuals with certificates expiring 7/1/01,

·        Individuals with authorizations expiring 2/1/01 or 2/1/02, and

·        Individuals hired during this period who hold no license for the position held.

Maine statute requires a criminal history records check based on fingerprints for licensing, rather than for employment.  This means that requiring fingerprinting sooner than the law requires is not at the discretion of a local district.

 

Importance of Accuracy in Completing License Application

As we have reviewed the CHRC printouts, well over 90% have been for convictions that are too old to be relevant, and the vast majority are for convictions that are not disqualifying.  However, many of these individuals checked on their applications that they had no conviction other than a minor traffic offense.  Some of these are simple mistakes: for example, a conviction for going through a tollbooth without paying is not considered a minor traffic offense.  However, some of these convictions involved extended incarceration, which is unforgettable, or multiple convictions with only the least serious explained.  In this first year of reviewing records we are exploring alternatives to denying people licenses based solely on inconsistency between application and criminal records check.  For this reason we have decided to give individuals with a conviction that is not by itself disqualifying, the opportunity to submit a new application with an explanation.  We are notifying individuals if they are in this status today, and will receive responses from them by December 11. 

 

Overall Status Report

Looking back on this first implementation season, I am pleased with the progress we have made.  For the most part the process has been smooth.  Almost all of those records indicate that we have a law-abiding workforce in Maine public schools.  In fact, school personnel as a population are more law-abiding that the general population.  Parents and taxpayers can be reassured by this information.  Both the Department of Education and the Department of Public Safety have learned a great deal in this process, which we hope will allow us to serve you better in the future.

 

   -- 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.