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U.S. House Approves Bipartisan Background Check Bill

By Alyson Klein — October 22, 2013 1 min read

School districts would have to conduct comprehensive background checks on any employee with unsupervised access to kids, under a bill approved Tuesday by the U.S. House of Representatives. The legislation would require districts to use state criminal and child abuse registries. And it would bar districts from hiring anyone who has been convicted of some pretty serious crimes against children, including child pornography.

The bill, written by Rep. George Miller of California, the top Democrat on the House education committee, was approved on the suspension calendar—which is where lawmakers typically stick relatively limited legislation that has broad, bipartisan support and virtually no real opposition in Congress. More from the committee, here, and the American Association of School Administrators, here.

But the National Education Association isn’t super jazzed up about the bill. Mary Kusler, the NEA’s director of government relations, wrote in a letter to lawmakers that the measure is “well intentioned” but could “run counter to existing state laws requiring background checks.”

So should school districts be getting ready to do those background checks any time soon? Probably not. The legislation would most likely need to be attached to the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which is at a standstill right now.

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