Ohio state representatives look to close teacher background check loophole

Ohio
Court Room Scales of Justice

ADOBE STOCK

(WKBN) – There’s a bipartisan effort in the Ohio House of Representatives to close what’s being called a “teacher background check loophole.”

Republican Sarah Fowler-Arthur of Geneva-on-the-Lake and Democrat Adam Miller of Columbus introduced a bill requiring schools to file a report when teachers retire under threat of investigation for misconduct.

“This bill will close a gap in state law that potentially allows a teacher to retire due to criminal activity and have no record of the issues if they choose to rehire into the classroom. Our first goal is to protect students by ensuring districts have accurate information when conducting a background check for the staff they hire or rehire,” said Fowler-Arthur.

Right now, Ohio teachers can use this loophole and retire while under investigation for misconduct and then apply to work for a different school or district with nothing in their record.

“Closing the Background Check Retirement Loophole protects students and parents,” said Miller. “It also protects school districts. A teacher who retires while under investigation would still have all their rights under law, but other districts would have a clearer picture of the circumstances and could make the best, most informed decision on hiring that teacher. Right now, a district can be left in the dark.”

Currently, schools are only required to report when a teacher resigns while under investigation.

Teachers use the loophole to apply elsewhere with nothing on their record.

Recently, according to a release, an Ohio school district had five teachers resign and one retire while under investigation into alleged inappropriate behavior involving pictures and text messages about a student.  Closing the loophole would mandate all six teachers be treated the same and reported to the ODE.

The proposal has no bill number and has not been referred to an Ohio House committee.

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