A bill submitted in the South Carolina Senate would require school districts to do background checks on substitute teachers. Current law requires FBI and SLED checks on full-time certified teachers but not on substitutes. The legislation would prohibit the employment of substitutes who don’t pass the test.
Bill sponsor Senator Paul Campbell, a Berkeley County republican, says most districts already require the checks, sometimes at the substitute’s expense.
“We do background checks on regular teachers and on school staff,” said Campbell. “We need to do them on substitutes as well to assure that we are giving students the safest education we can provide. This measure just looks for bad actors trying to get a job in a school system, everything from violent criminals to pedophiles to anything else. If there has been rehabilitation, I guess a school district can make a choice. But it means that a district has to look carefully at a person who wants to be alone with a classroom full of young people.”
A key supporter of the bill in the House is Charleston Republican Jenny Horne. She says substitute teaching should not be an opportunity for child predators. “The state Board of Education found that districts were not uniformly performing background checks,” she says. “Some substitutes had criminal records that district officials were not aware of. Child sexual predators will put themselves in a place where they are around children and certainly we want to guard against that.”