Richmond School Board to consider changes to background checks - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Richmond School Board to consider changes to background checks policy

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

Who is allowed to work in your child's classroom is up for debate. Monday, the Richmond School Board will consider changing its hiring policies when it comes to criminal background checks and which crimes it will allow employees to have in their pasts.

This discussion began when someone spoke before the school board. We've learned there have been instances where Richmond Public Schools has made employment offers to people and then background checks for those people have come back with offenses that would disqualify them from getting the job. 

The board's human resources committee decided to study the issue.

"We are considering that some of the language in this particular policy may be a barrier," said board member Tichi Pinkney Eppes.

The policy as it stands right now says if you've been convicted of a crime of "moral turpitude," you're barred from working for RPS. Those offenses involve lying, cheating and stealing.

Attorneys and the HR committee have come up with a template to start the discussion of changes. It says employment suitability "will be determined on a case-by-case basis" and they'll consider "the nature and age of convictions, pattern of criminal history and nature of employment."

"We're not lowering our standards," Pinkney Eppes added. "What we are being cognizant of, though, is that not every human being is perfect."

Not everyone is sold on the idea. Some school board members we checked in with think this is not going to work for Richmond.

"I can't believe we're having the discussion," school board member Glen Sturtevant told us.

He is adamantly opposed to the changes.

"We're running a school system, not a McDonald's, so we have a higher burden to ensure that every person we employ, especially those who serve in our classrooms, are of the utmost character," Sturtevant added.

One other potential change Pinkney Eppes says they'll also have RPS look into is a way to make sure these crimes are discovered earlier on in the hiring process.

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