Regents Action on New Regulations Implementing the Legislative Fingerprinting Mandates
|Date:||June 20, 2001|
District Superintendents of Schools
|From:||Gerald W. Patton, Deputy Commissioner, Office of Higher Education
James A. Kadamus, Deputy Commissioner of Elementary, Middle, Secondary and Continuing Education
|Subject:||Regents Action on New Regulations Implementing the Legislative Fingerprinting Mandates|
At its June meeting, the Board of Regents acted on Part 87 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education, implementing the new fingerprinting requirements of the Safe Schools Against Violence in Education (SAVE) legislation. These regulations were enacted as an emergency rule due to the July 1, 2001 effective date of the enabling statute, Chapter 180 of the Laws of 2000.
The statute requires that applicants for teaching and administrative certification and prospective employees of school districts, charter schools, and Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) undergo a fingerprint-supported criminal history background check. This will affect all new applications filed with the Department after July 1, 2001, as well as new employees of school districts, charter schools and BOCES who are hired by official action of the governing body after July 1, 2001.
The Board of Regents is expected to act on additional amendments in July to further explain the overall implementation process of these initiatives. These regulations will include language further clarifying that a criminal history background check will not be required for individuals who have provided services to the school district in the previous year, either in a compensated position or as an employee of a provider of contracted services. The proposed amendments will also clarify that background checks will not be required for individuals such as artists, performing artists, visiting lecturers and sports officials who provide services for the district for no more than five days in the school year and who will be under the in-person supervision of one or more employees of the school while the services are being performed. The proposed amendments will clarify that students who provide tutoring or other compensated services for the school district will not be required to undergo criminal history background checks.
In order to implement this new function in a timely and efficient manner, the State Education Department has organized the Office of School Personnel Review and Accountability (OSPRA) within the Office of Teaching Initiatives (OTI). OSPRA has hired staff, entered into agreements with the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) to receive the necessary fingerprint supported criminal history background reports, and disseminated the necessary information to the field. In May, Charles C. Mackey, Jr., Executive Coordinator of OTI, issued a cover memo and a sample SED Fingerprint Packet to all affected parties so that they could order the necessary fingerprint packets for their organizations. The Department has also made this information available through the web at www.highered.nysed.gov/tcert.
This is a comprehensive program that will take the joint efforts and cooperation of the Department, school districts, BOCES, charter schools, and applicants for certification to ensure that the legislative intent of SAVE is realized. OSPRA will process and forward fingerprint cards and information to DCJS within one to two days of receipt. Department staff will process applications as quickly as possible. However, DCJS has informed OSPRA staff that it will take an average of 21 days to process the necessary State and Federal criminal history background reports for each applicant.
We strongly recommend that all school districts, BOCES, and charter schools take the background check processing time into consideration when developing hiring schedules. Schools will have to make their new hires in early July in order to receive the necessary clearances for employment prior to the new school year beginning in September 2001.
Any additional information and updates on this matter will be made available by OSPRA on the web site at the address indicated above. In addition, OSPRA will respond to individual questions and concerns through e-mail at OSPRA@nysed.gov.