July 20, 2017 - 6:38 pm
Updated July 20, 2017 - 10:18 pm
New laws requiring Nevada school officials to look deeper into applicants’ pasts are taxing the Clark County School District’s human resources staff and extending the time it takes to make job offers, the district’s top HR official says.
The laws were passed during the recent legislative session to help keep child predators out of Nevada classrooms by requiring applicants to authorize potential employers to request more information — including any allegations, investigations or disciplinary measures related to sexual misconduct — from previous school districts where they were employed.
School districts in Nevada are required to comply with the requests. If the applicant is coming from out of state, the district is required to request the information, though there is no way to ensure compliance.
Andre Long, the district’s human resources officer, said this week that the additional information does provide a fuller picture of an applicant’s history, but it also means a longer review process before reaching a decision on whether to hire a candidate.
Laws kicked in on July 1
“It is putting a strain on the HR department,” he said.
Long said he couldn’t yet quantify how much longer the hiring process was taking because of the new measures. Nor could he say whether the department would require more staff in the long term to comply with the laws, which took effect July 1.
The laws were passed as the district was dealing with the fallout from a spate of sexual misconduct cases involving teachers, bus drivers and other district employees and students. Thirteen employees were arrested on such charges between July 1, 2016 and June 2017.
Flaws in the background check system were one facet of the problem highlighted by the Review-Journal in the Broken Trust series. Experts also cited a clause in the district’s contract with the teacher’s union and a lack of proper training as contributing to predators slipping into the system.
As lawmakers in Carson City were addressing some hiring loopholes, the district began work on its first social media policy, which dictates how and when employees should interact with students on the internet — another issue highlighted by the experts.
Work continues on policy
A working group was created to develop a draft policy and in June held a public roundtable to discuss the recommendations that emerged, which included a ban on employees texting students individually while allowing group messages between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. It also states that staff should refrain from interacting with students from personal social media accounts and use district-recommended communication tools to talk to students about assignments, grades or other matters.
“This new policy and regulation represent the input we received from our employees, the community and law enforcement,” Assistant Superintendent Tammy Malich said of the draft policy in a statement. “It is designed to protect our kids while ensuring that our employees can continue to build appropriate relationships with our students.”
On Thursday, the district released results of a survey the district conducted after releasing the draft. A review of the responses indicates parents and educators are most conflicted over the restrictions on texting, with some parents saying that texting should never occur and some educators arguing that the policy is overly broad.
The board will host a work session at 8 a.m. Aug. 2 to address lingering concerns over the policy — potentially making changes — and is slated to adopt a final version during an Aug. 10 meeting, which begins at 5 p.m. Both meetings will be held at the Edward Greer Education Center, 2832 East Flamingo Road.
Contact Meghin Delaney at 702-383-0281 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @MeghinDelaney on Twitter.