Background checks at Petal, Lamar County School Districts aim to keep kids safe

Background checks at Petal, Lamar County School Districts aim to keep kids safe
Photo credit: WDAM

PINE BELT (WDAM) - Petal and Lamar County School Districts have nearly 2,000 employees, and almost all that come in contact with students on a daily basis.

When it comes to hiring for a job in both districts, there are multiple safety hurdles that applicants have to pass.

"We are very careful about who we put around our children, we want to make sure that we maintain their safety at all times," Lamar County Superintendent Tess Smith said.

According to Smith, the process all starts with an application and the background process only intensifies from there.

"We fingerprint them on sight and it's sent off to the NCIC database, which hooks up with the FBI and does a FBI background check and it also ties into our state database to see if there has been any arrests in their history," Smith said.

According to Petal School District Superintendent Matt Dillon, his district operates the same way.

"All employees go through a digital fingerprinting system, and from there they are run through a database through the FBI for us to get background information on our staff," Dillon said. "In addition our employees have to go through a child abuse registry through their social security number and all of these things have to take place before board approval in our district."

Dillon added that his district also takes an extra step for security at the building level when it comes to volunteers.

"We have a Raptor System where volunteers have to run their drivers license through a system at the building level, to run it through a sex registry in order for them to be able to work with our students," Dillon said. "We love to have volunteers in our district but also we have to have a protocol in place for them having access to our students."

Lamar County also keeps tabs on their substitute teachers that the district uses.

"Our subs come through a company called Sub-Teach, but we still maintain the fingerprinting of even those employees, of those Sub-Teach employees in our district, we oversee all that even for that company," Smith said. "We cover every basis we have to be sure our children are kept as safe as possible."