FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, FEBRUARY 12, 2009
For More Information Contact:
Tom Dunn or Jane Briggs at (518) 474-1201
STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT ACCEPTS OSC AUDIT;
CRIMINAL HISTORY BACKGROUND CHECK IMPROVEMENTS ARE IN PLACE
The State Education Department (SED) agrees with the findings of the Office of State Comptroller (OSC) regarding criminal history background checks for school employees. SED has instituted the recommendations of the OSC and has made other significant improvements to strengthen the process that will ensure that those hired to work in our schools are properly screened.
The audit period (March 14, 2006 to March 13, 2008) covered a critical transition time when the fingerprint workflow process at SED was undergoing dramatic change from a largely paper-based process to a completely electronic process. This transition has been completed.
SED has addressed technical issues, revised internal controls, and implemented several new measures to streamline fingerprint application processing, including:
"There is no issue more important than student safety," said Education Commissioner Richard Mills. "We thank the Executive and the Legislature for recognizing the need for additional resources to ensure student safety and have been cleared to hire additional staff. Additional staff will complete the resources necessary to gain the protections intended by the SAVE legislation."
With improvements in place and increased focus on the criminal background process both in SED and the school districts, the approval and hiring process has become more secure. With additional staff the State Education Department will be able to further improve this important function.
More details regarding SED improvements in the criminal background process are in the response submitted to the OSC.