Education A National Roundup

Judges Back Michigan Unions, Rule Background Checks Flawed

By Lesli A. Maxwell — February 21, 2006 1 min read

In separate rulings, two judges in Michigan have ordered that a list identifying public school employees with criminal records remain under wraps, saying the information is too flawed to be useful.

Ingham County Circuit Judge Joyce Draganchuk issued a preliminary injunction on Feb. 10, following a week in which hundreds of school employees across Michigan learned that a background check required by a new state law had identified them as convicted criminals. (“Mich. Sex-Offender Law Has Educators in Uproar,” Feb. 15, 2006.)

The Michigan Education Association, which had sued over the matter, demanded that the results be voided.

Judge Draganchuk, who was deciding whether a temporary ban on releasing the names publicly should be made permanent, agreed with the union and employees that the first round of checks resulted in too many errors and should be kept out of the public eye.

In addition, U.S. District Judge Paul Gadola on Feb. 14 issued a temporary ban on releasing the list and ordered that all copies that were sent earlier this month to school districts be recalled. The temporary restraining order was sought by the 35,000-member Michigan affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers

A Michigan state police official said last week that the agency would complete a new round of checks by March 1, this time using more stringent criteria to determine matches.

A version of this article appeared in the February 22, 2006 edition of Education Week