Effective July 1, 2017, Public Act 17-68, An Act Concerning Various Revisions and Additions to the Education Statutes, became a law. The Act, which the Connecticut General Assembly passed unanimously, makes several changes to various education statutes. A significant development for our clients is that it applies the mandatory employment background check requirements to private schools. Public Act 17-68 (See Sections 9 and 10 of Act). The Connecticut Association of Independent Schools fully supported passage of the Act.
Under the Act, applicants for employment who come into direct contact with students must participate in, and consent to, a number of steps, such as stating whether they have ever been convicted of a crime or whether criminal charges are pending, and submitting to state and national criminal background checks and checks of the DCF child abuse and neglect registry. The applicant must also provide contact information for all current and former employers in jobs involving contact with children, and allow the school to inquire whether the applicant has a history of sexual misconduct, child abuse or neglect. The questions to be asked of former employers are:
To your knowledge, has the Applicant ever:
Been the subject of an allegation of abuse or neglect or sexual misconduct for which there is an investigation currently pending with any current or prior employer, state agency or municipal police department or which has been substantiated?
Been disciplined or asked to resign from employment or resigned from or otherwise separated from any employment while an allegation of abuse or neglect or sexual misconduct was pending or under investigation, or due to a substantiation of abuse or neglect or sexual misconduct?
Had a professional or occupational license, certificate, authorization or permit suspended or revoked or ever surrendered such a license, certificate, authorization or permit while an allegation of abuse or neglect or sexual misconduct was pending or under investigation, or due to a substantiation of abuse or neglect or sexual misconduct?
The Act grants immunity from civil and criminal liability to the school seeking the information, and to the current and former employers who share the information.
Equally important, the Act extends to private schools the prohibition against entering into an agreement for resignation, severance, or any other agreement that has the effect of suppressing information related to an investigation of suspected employee abuse, neglect, or sexual misconduct. The Act establishes procedures for hiring certain applicants for select positions with education employers, including student transportation workers, temporary hires, substitute teachers, and contractor employees, and requires that questions similar to the ones above be asked of prospective employees of contractors.
We encourage private schools to review their hiring procedures, background checks, and reference practices, in light of this new law.
For any questions about Public Act 17-68, please contact:
Giovanna T. Weller
(203) 575-2651; [email protected]
Domenico Zaino, Jr.
(203) 578-4270; [email protected]