School District Acknowledges Missing Background Checks


Photo: The Graphic

Source: Amherst Regional Public Schools

The Amherst Regional School District reported in a press release issued on September 27, 2023, that while Massachusetts law requires that school districts conduct criminal background checks on all employees who have unmonitored contact with children, the district cannot be confident that all background checks required within the last 20 months have been conducted. The district is in the process of bringing its records into compliance with state law and expects that process to be completed by January 1, 2024.

The district’s press release follows:

As leaders, we understand and appreciate that members of the community are calling for an increase in transparency from our school districts. In an eftort to show our commitment to meeting the community’s expectations, we are writing to disclose that the Districts’ employment records do not consistently reflect whether the Districts have conducted certain background checks of their employees.

Massachusetts law requires all school districts to conduct criminal background checks of state records as well as national records through the FBI for employees who have unmonitored contact with children. Massachusetts law also requires that we review state criminal records every three years.

In addition, school districts must review information from the state sex offender registry (SORI) which was newly required this past spring. Based on an ongoing internal audit of our records, we cannot be confident that CORI and fingerprint background checks have consistently been conducted over the past 20 months.

We are currently in the process of bringing the Districts into compliance and expect this process to be complete by January 1, 2024.

We want to emphasize that we have no reason to believe that any individual employed by the Districts presents any risk to children or staff

Margaret Stancer, Chair, Pelham School Committee
Sarahbess Kenney, Chair, Regional School Committee
Irv Rhodes, Chair, Union 26 School Committee
Doug Slaughter. Interim Superintendent
Kathrvn Mazur Human Resources Administrator

Contact: Debbie Westmoreland. Director of Communication and Operations
Director of Communication and Operations
Amherst, Pelham and Amherst-Pelham Regional Schools
170 Chestnut Street
Amherst, MA  01002
(413) 362-1823

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3 thoughts on “School District Acknowledges Missing Background Checks

  1. I appreciate the effort at transparency but what motivated the district to issue this press release all of a sudden and how was it disseminated to families? I get multiple messages every week through the new ARPS Parent Square app but I don’t see anything about this lack of CORI checks on there, nor did I receive any notification via email. This does not encourage trust in leadership at a time when trust is severely eroded.

    I wonder too if there are any checks done of employees’ qualifications before they are hired. Last year, my middle school child’s art teacher left abruptly after February break, reportedly telling the kids it was because he didn’t have a degree or a license to teach. He had been in the district for a couple of years by that point! How many educators are working in our district without a valid license or the required qualification, in addition to no criminal background checks? Who is responsible for ensuring this is all done before someone is hired to be around our kids?

  2. This is very irresponsible on the past Admins- should be terms for immediate accountability.
    Honestly this is a turning point of transparency because I don’t think the system would have shared this info even 6 months ago

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