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Proposal would require background checks for all Iowa school workers

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Critics say a bill requiring background checks for Iowa school employees is a good idea but doesn’t go far enough to protect children.

Current law requires criminal background checks for teachers and school bus drivers working for Iowa schools, but not for volunteers, student teachers and many other school employees.

If Senate File 338 becomes law, districts would be required to check child abuse, adult abuse and sex offender registries for new job applicants including part-time and substitute workers.  Employees would be re-checked every five years.

Rep. Mark Smith of Marshalltown said the measure falls short because serious criminal offenses, including murder, would not appear on those registries.    The bill also doesn’t require checks for offenses outside of Iowa.

The measure does allow districts to review information in the state’s publicly-available court records system.

Rep. Megan Hess of Spencer said districts could still elect to run a national background check at a cost of about $50 each.

The bill passed the Iowa House Tuesday, May 7, 2013.  It returns to the state Senate for review.