Q: Can districts use a third-party vendor to check the criminal history of student teachers and volunteers?
No, using only a third-party vendor doesn’t comply with requirements for student teachers and certain volunteers. Information from a third-party vendor can supplement the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) criminal history checks for certain volunteers and student teachers, but it can’t be the primary source of information. Texas Education Code (TEC) § 22.0835 specifically requires districts to obtain a state (name-based) criminal history review through DPS before these individuals perform any duties.
There are exceptions for three major categories of volunteers:
- A parent, guardian, or grandparent of a student enrolled in the district where the person will perform the volunteer services,
- A person who will be accompanied by a district employee while on campus, and
- A person who is a volunteer for a single event on a campus.
The district may choose but is not required to conduct a DPS check on individuals who meet the exception criteria. It also has the option to obtain criminal history record information from any other law enforcement agency, criminal justice agency, or private consumer reporting agency for these volunteers, as well as all other volunteers and student teachers.
Additional information is available in the HR Library topic Criminal History Checks and in the TASB School Law eSource paper Criminal History Reviews of District Employees and Volunteers.