SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – One lawmaker says there’s thousands of school employees across New Mexico who have never had a background checked conducted. He’s looking to change that.
Rep. David Adkins, R-Albuquerque, says a loophole in the state’s law grandfathered in school employees who were hired before May 20, 1998 so that they were never required to get a background check.
Rep. Adkins is proposing a bill this session that would close the loophole and require that all employees, regardless of when they were hired, get a fingerprint background check done.
“I’m not just talking about teachers..it’s anybody who works for the school district,” he said. “So, it could be a school lunch employee, it could be a janitor.”
Rep. Adkins says the district could choose to cover the cost, otherwise it’s about $75 out of the employee’s pocket.
“We just want our kids to be safe, and for the parents to know that while they’re at school, their kids are safe,” he said.
Under the law, school districts would also be notified when one of these employees commits a crime. That’s how the system already works for the employees who have already had a background check done.
Public Education Department Secretary Hanna Skandera says she supports this legislation.
Rep. Adkins says the latest data — from a year or two ago — shows that 8,000 employees statewide do not have background checks.
But we know that since then, some districts, like Albuquerque Public Schools, have performed the checks.
APS ran background checks on its roughly 2,300 employees who were grandfathered under the law. That came in the wake of a scandal in which APS unknowingly hired an assistant superintendent who had a child molestation charge against him out of Colorado.
Rep. Adkins and Speaker of the House Brian Egolf took a run at this same bill last year, but it failed.