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Parents: Do your own teacher background check

5:07 AM, Aug 15, 2012   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Duval County Public schools start up again on Monday.  Many kids will have new teachers.  According to the District, all 8500 of those teachers are given strict background checks.  But with news of Christopher Bacca recently being fired by the District after being charged with sexually assaulting students, more parents are asking how can they do their own background checks on teachers.

Partly due to the Bacca case, the Duval County School District is re-evaluating its policies.  "Are there ways to communicate with other agencies?  Is there additional information we need to consider in our hiring decision?  Absolutely," says Sonita Young, the new Chief Human Resource Officer at Duval County Public Schools.  Young says the District will re-evaluate how it hires and evaluates its teachers.  "That review will include everything from how we screen our employees before hire, to how we initiate investigations within the District, to how we train our employees to report misconduct," says Young.

Parents can do their homework too.  In a room on the first floor of the Duval County School District building are the personnel files of the more than 13,000 Duval County School District employees. Anyone is allowed to review those files and essentially check on their child's teacher.  "It includes things like the prior evaluations of the teacher, as well as any discipline that has been taken against a particular teacher," says Young.   When looking at personnel files a District employee will be with you. You can make copies of what's in the file for a nominal charge

Parents can also go to myfloridateacher.com where they can search an online database to see if any disciplinary action has been taken against a certified educator's certificate.

Each Duval County School employee goes through a Level 2 background check.  That includes, a local and national criminal background check and a check of the sexual predator list.  "The question was whether we needed to review every investigation that has occured that has not resulted in some type of disciplinary action. Based on the sheer volume of employees, I don't think that is necessary. I do believe we have some of the most stringent background screenings requirements in the state of Florida."

The District's review of its policies will be ready next week.  In the meantime, curious parents can review files in person or search online.

First Coast News

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