SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Student safety is a key priority for public schools in New Mexico. Now, legislators are working to ensure proper background checks can be done for school staff.
To conduct background checks, the state relies on the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which runs a national database of criminal records. Currently, New Mexico’s laws might not meet the FBI’s requirements to access and use those records. The state has been granted a waiver from the FBI to access the records despite the issue, but that waiver expires in July, according to an analysis.
Without fixing the problem, the state might not be able to issue new teachers’ licenses in the near future. So, lawmakers are looking to fix the issue so that new school staff can continue to be checked and licensed. Senate Bill 383 would do just that.
The bill also clarifies who is required to get a background check. In addition to teachers, staff such as attendance coaches, practical nurses, school health assistants, school business officials, rehabilitation counselors, athletic coaches, educational alcohol and drug abuse counselors, and substance abuse associates would also need a background check.
Wednesday, March 8, the bill passed the House Education Committee. If lawmakers want the bill to become law, they have just 10 more days to get the bill through the legislative session and onto the Governor’s.