School Business Affairs
Amid concerns over teacher sexual abuse and other misconduct involving students— although involving a very small percentage of educators—boards should strengthen their policies for evaluating the qualifications of potential teachers, including those with experience, by requesting letters of recommendation after they complete initial state-mandated criminal background checks.
As crucial as letters of recommendation are in the hiring process, litigation demonstrates that some education leaders fail in their duty to safeguard children from sexual predators. Cases arose when officials provided undeserved positive reference letters for teachers who engaged in sexual misconduct with students—teachers who moved on to other school systems where they again misbehaved. In those cases, students and their parents sued education officials in the sending districts for providing essentially false references, thereby highlighting the need to have policies in place that require letter writers to be truthful and forthright.
In light of the need to ensure that school boards protect children from teachers who may threaten their safety, the remainder of this column reviews cases wherein parents sued school boards alleging that officials failed to complete adequate background checks of teachers. Then, it offers recommendations for school business officials (SBOs), their boards, and other education leaders as they work to devise policies on letters of recommendation.
Copyright © 2013, ASBO International
Association of School Business Officials
Place of Publication
Russo, Charles J., "Letters of Recommendation: Honesty Remains the Best Policy" (2013). Educational Leadership Faculty Publications. 142.
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