New state bill keeps public educator's records private - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

5/17/09

New state bill keeps public educator's records private

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By Brittany Pieper - bio | email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - A new bill passed by the Texas House of Representatives makes the criminal background check of a public school employee private. Lubbock teacher Clinton Gill says this will help teachers avoid unnecessary scrutiny. "This is just an extra measure that the legislature is making sure that teachers aren't put into a situation where they're uncomfortable," said Gill. 

He gave examples of when this bill would help teachers, like if a teacher had a minor incident years ago, or if a check turns up information about a different person with the same name. He says some Austin teachers were falsely accused a few years ago by media outlets because of this type of mix-up. "A lot of people that had the same names were misidentified," Gill said. 

However, some parents say when they drop their kids off at school, they should be able to find out who they're leaving them with. One mother said a school bus driver physically hurt her daughter, and if an incident like that ever happens again she thinks she should be able to access the background checks.

Other parents like James Stumm, said they don't have a problem with the bill.  "I don't know that it's necessary for parents to have access to everything that a teacher has done.  We all probably have things that we've done that we don't want to share," Stumm says. 

Gill says not to worry; school districts wouldn't hire anyone who they think would put students in danger. "Parents in Lubbock ISD can rest assure that their teachers and educators throughout the entire school district are checked on a yearly basis, and problems that may arise are taken care of," he said. 

The Texas Senate also passed a similar bill, so it shouldn't be long before the bill becomes law.

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