In late August, all current users for the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) secure site for ISDs received notice from DPS that effective September 1 DPS would no longer accept new requests from school contracting agencies for access to the DPS secure website because school contracting agencies would no longer have legislative authority to obtain Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) criminal history record information. In other words, contractors working for school districts would no longer have access to the FACT Clearinghouse to complete national criminal history checks on their employees.
The notice indicated that this change in process was due to a recent audit conducted by the (FBI) and also indicated that ISDs, instead of school contractors, would need to begin fingerprinting those contractor employees required by state law to have national criminal history background checks.
Districts receiving this guidance understandably were worried about how to comply and confused about the logistics of this new process. The Criminal History Inquiry Unit at DPS has verbally informed TASB that, for the time being, school districts may disregard the notice regarding changes to contractor access to the FACT Clearinghouse. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) and DPS are working together on this issue, and district staff should be on the lookout for an amended notice explaining how districts and school contractors can obtain and process background checks in the future. Pending this amended notice, districts can continue in the same manner as before.
Additional questions should be directed to the DPS Criminal History Inquiry Unit at 512.424.2474.
Joe Ball is a staff attorney with TASB Legal Services.
Amy Campbell is director at TASB HR Services. Send Amy an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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