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Criminal background checks for school employees find felons

LANSING, Mich. -- A statewide criminal background check of about 200,000 school employees as of the start of the year found that 66 teachers and 399 other school employees were felons, according to a state report.

LANSING, Mich. — A statewide criminal background check of about 200,000 school employees as of the start of the year found that 66 teachers and 399 other school employees were felons, according to a state report.

The report released Friday found eleven more — including three teachers — with sex-related convictions, The Detroit News reported. Under new laws, those 11 were expected to be fired immediately.

More than a dozen new laws passed last year are intended to better protect children from felons, particularly sex offenders.

The laws ban registered sex offenders from living, working or loitering within 1,000 feet of a school and require schools and day care centers to take fingerprints and do background checks on all their employees.

The state Department of Education was notifying districts of their employees with criminal convictions. In the report released Friday, employees’ names and school districts were not yet included.

A first batch of notifications about background check results was sent out earlier this year. But those results were recalled because of inaccuracies, such as innocent employees listed as committing crimes.

Margaret Trimer-Hartley, spokeswoman for the Michigan Education Association, said the union was grateful that the number of teachers with convictions was reasonably low — less than 1 percent.

“We are proud that our profession is as clean as it is,” she said.

May 13, 2006
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