Understanding the FBI Civil Rap Back Program

April 16, 2018 • Karen Dooley

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Civil Rap Back program that provides notification of employee’s criminal activity occurring outside the state of Texas is now available.

Texas requirements

Districts and education service centers have been able to subscribe to receive electronic notification through the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Fingerprint-based Applicant Clearinghouse of Texas (FACT) if an employee’s criminal history record changes—i.e., if the employee is arrested or charged with a violation of law subsequent to the initial background check. In the past, the subscription service only notified an entity of new activity to a Texas criminal history record. Effective January 15, 2018, the FBI Civil Rap Back program allows an entity to receive notification of new activity to a criminal history record at the national level. With the implementation of this program, an organization will continue to receive notifications of events that occurred within Texas, but also will receive notifications of events that occurred elsewhere in the nation.

These programs are designed to assist organizations in the continuous vetting of employees in positions of trust and who have direct contact with students.

Applicability

An employee is eligible for an FBI Civil Rap Back if they were fingerprinted after June 1, 2015. In order to participate in the FBI Civil Rap Back program and to enable the employer to obtain both state and national criminal history record information, this employee must have signed the FBI’s Authorization Form. If the applicant was fingerprinted electronically, this form was signed at the time of fingerprinting. An employee fingerprinted before June 1, 2015 must be re-fingerprinted to become eligible for the FBI Rap Back program. A Texas-only subscription can still be set for the ineligible employee.

There are no additional fees for creating a Rap Back subscription on an eligible employee.

Below is an overview of the FBI Civil Rap Back subscriptions:

  • Applicants fingerprinted for an organization after January 15, 2018, will have FBI Rap Back included in the automatic subscription.
  • Manual subscriptions created after January 15, 2018, will have FBI Rap Back included in the subscription if the submitting agency is FBI Rap Back eligible.
  • Already existing subscriptions for eligible applicants (those printed between June 1, 2015 and January 15, 2018) will not have FBI Rap Back automatically added. These are referred to as legacy-eligible applicants.

Information regarding the subscription process, validation, and unsubscribing to applicants can be found in the FBI Civil Rap Back User Guide.

School district impact

Districts must determine whether or not to require new hires and existing employees who were fingerprinted prior to June 1, 2015 to be re-fingerprinted. If they are not re-fingerprinted, the district wouldn’t be notified of an event that occurs with an individual outside of Texas.

If a district chooses to re-fingerprint its current employees, cost will be a major consideration. Districts will need to determine which employees will be reprinted and when it will be done. One option is to reprint in phases based on job groups. While there is no requirement to use the FBI Rap Back program, the risk of not enrolling will also need to be considered.

Teretha Patterson, Director of Data Services with Mansfield ISD, says her district currently is contemplating this question. She is reviewing all subscriptions and analyzing the number of employees not currently eligible for the FBI Civil Rap Back program. Once determined, the district will decide if it will cover the cost of the re-fingerprinting or pass the cost to its employees. If the choice is made to cover the cost, consideration will be given to implementing the re-fingerprinting process in phases.

When it comes to applicants, Mansfield ISD already has a system in place. The district has been asking applicants to re-fingerprint for several years in situations where the applicant’s FBI information was expired. Now the district needs to make minor adjustments to its hiring procedures to ensure its new hires are eligible for the FBI Civil Rap Back program. Additional information on Criminal History Reviews of District Employees and Volunteers is available in the TASB School Law eSource.

Tagged: "Criminal history"