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What can you do if a school didn't perform background checks?

Background checks are important for schools because they can help identify people who shouldn't be working with children. As a parent who is enrolling your child in school, knowing that the school has completed these checks is important. If the school hasn't, then you may have a case if the teacher or staff member hurts your child.

The Jessica Lunsford Act, which was signed into law on June 20, 2007, requires that sexual predators have special annotations on their driver's licenses at all times. If the school is working with someone as a contractor or vendor, a background check should be performed to help determine if the vendor is someone who should be around children.

If a school doesn't request a background check, it could miss the fact that someone is a sex offender. Further, if the school doesn't check the person's accreditation, then the lack of a license won't be recognized. In Florida, some types of offenses make it impossible for someone to obtain a teaching license or to work at a school when student contact is possible.

There are several kinds of felony offenses that result in the inability to work in schools. These can include aggravated assault, manslaughter, adult abuse and sexual misconduct.

If you find out that your child has been exposed to risks because of the school's failure to conduct a background check its staff members, you need to speak up. Other children and families could rely on that report, and you could be in a position to request compensation and an explanation of the school's actions.

Source: Florida Department of Education, "Background Screening Requirements," accessed Oct. 22, 2015

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