Ensuring Student Safety: Vetting and Training of Employees, Contractors and Volunteers
Providing a safe and welcoming learning environment is essential to student success. An important step to providing this environment begins with the adults in our schools. Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) conducts multipoint background checks on employees to ensure that they are qualified, ethical, responsible, and meet high expectations for professionalism prior to being hired or interacting with students.
Below are the key elements in MCPS’ vetting process for new employees:
- Application Disclosure - As part of the application process, potential employees must disclose past criminal conduct, including, but not limited to child abuse, sexual offense, and distribution of drugs or other controlled substances.
- In-person Interviews – All employees participate in an in-person, structured interview process.
- Fingerprinting – All new employees are fingerprinted as part of the hiring process. Fingerprints are submitted to both Maryland and FBI criminal history databases for review. MCPS is alerted if an employee is fingerprinted for an arrest in Maryland any time after being hired. Maryland law prohibits county boards of education from knowingly hiring or retaining any individual who has been convicted of, or pled guilty or nolo contendere (no contest) to certain crimes. The list of these crimes can be found here.
- Child Welfare Services Background Check – All new employees undergo a background review by Child Protective Services to check for allegations of child abuse and neglect, including those with no arrests or charges made but investigated.
- Reference Review- MCPS requires all applicants to submit references. MCPS reviews these references to confirm previous employment and reputable work history.
- Mandatory Training - All employees are required to take training on the key student safety issues including prevention, recognition and reporting of child abuse and neglect; sexual harassment; bullying, harassment and intimidation; suicide prevention; gangs and gang behaviors
- Self-Reporting Arrests: Maryland law prohibits a county board of education from knowingly hiring or retaining any individual who has been convicted, or pled guilty or nolo contendere (no contest) to certain crimes. These crimes include, but are not limited to child abuse, sexual offense, and distribution of drugs or other controlled substances. A full list of crimes requiring self-reporting is available here. MCPS requires all employees to self-report within seven business days of the arrest or criminal charge.
In addition, all certified educator’s credentials are checked against the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) Clearinghouse, a national collection point for professional educator discipline. This screening helps to ensure that an educator’s credentials have not been suspended or revoked.
For Substitute Teachers:
Substitute teachers receive the same vetting process and are required to complete the same training on the key student safety issues as other MCPS employees, including prevention, recognition, and reporting of child abuse and neglect.
In compliance with new amendments to Maryland law and Board of Education policy, contractors working in an MCPS facility where they could have direct, unsupervised, and uncontrolled access to students must undergo a a criminal background check, which includes fingerprinting and mandatory training on the prevention, recognition and reporting of child abuse and neglect. Learn more about contractor background check procedures here: www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/departments/procurement/Contractors.aspx
MCPS values the volunteers who work in our schools to enrich our students’ experiences. As a community, we are mindful of our shared responsibility to create safe, nurturing environments for our students. As part of this responsibility, the following categories of volunteers are required to complete fingerprinting and background checks:
- Volunteer coaches,
- Outdoor Environmental Education Programs (Outdoor Education) overnight chaperones,
- Volunteers on overnight field trips, and
- Volunteers on extended day trip that require Office of School Support and Improvement approval. (e.g., if departure time is not within the MCPS operations start time and/or return time is later than 7:00 p.m.)
Learn more about volunteer background checks here: www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/uploadedFiles/childabuseandneglect/CAN%20Volunteer%20FAQs%20010518.pdf
Volunteers are also required to complete training on preventing, recognizing and reporting child abuse and neglect. Learn more about this training here: www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/childabuseandneglect/#Volunteer
Commercial Vehicle Operators and Attendants:
In addition to the screening process for all employees, MCPS bus operators are subject to federal requirements for pre-employment, random, reasonable suspicion ; and post-accident alcohol and other drug testing. The testing programs apply to all employees who hold commercial driver’s licenses, and who operate commercial vehicles for MCPS, even if they drive such vehicles only infrequently.
MCPS believes that student teachers/interns make a direct, positive contribution to education and, and the system is dedicated to contributing excellence to future educators by offering quality teaching experiences. As part of this experience, student teachers/interns undergo a background check.
Learn more information about student teacher background checks here: