LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Joseph Bellino wants “immediate action” after a report by the Legislature’s auditor general released on Tuesday said the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) failed to ensure schools conducted required criminal background checks of employees to prevent people with certain felony convictions from working with children.
“The department’s failure to make sure schools are protecting kids is absolutely despicable and completely unacceptable,” said Bellino, R-Monroe. “The safety and security of students should always be a top priority, and immediate action is needed to ensure the state meets its oversight responsibility to protect Michigan students as schools prepare for the next school year.”
Under state law, school workers are required to have a criminal background check conducted with a fingerprint check run through a Michigan State Police database.
Among the findings outlined in a report from Auditor General Doug Ringler are:
- Roughly 4% of contract workers were not fingerprinted and even more were not fingerprinted in a timely fashion.
- The MDE failed to always notify school districts when it learned of convictions.
- Employees may have been prematurely removed from criminal monitoring.
- The MDE did a poor job monitoring school districts to ensure compliance.
- Unreliable information was sometimes used to determine if someone was employed by a school district.