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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.

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This document has been made available for download by permission of the publisher.

This article originally appeared in the February 2013 School Business Affairs magazine and is reprinted with permission of the Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO). The text herein does not necessarily represent the views or policies of ASBO International, and use of this imprint does not imply any endorsement or recognition by ASBO International and its officers or affiliates. Any additional re-purposing or reprint of this article in this or any other medium is restricted without prior written consent.

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Association of School Business Officials





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Reston, VA



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