Background Checks for School Workers

A new Alabama law goes into effect that requires fingerprinting and background check for most school employees.

Mobile County teachers, principals and other school personnel in the Alabama's largest school system will be the first to undergo 10-minute fingerprinting.

The Alabama Bureau of Investigation and the FBI will compare the fingerprints to their computer files on criminals.

Only convictions and pending charges can be considered, not acquittals or dropped charges.

The state will spend about $5.5 million from the National Tobacco Settlement to purchase equipment and check current employees. Only new applicants will pay $49 for the checks.

Since 1999, Alabama law has required criminal background checks for new teachers and other new education employees with unsupervised access to children, such as bus drivers. About 15,000 background checks are done each year.

The expanded law, sponsored by Mobile County Legislators to include veteran teachers and other personnel, came after Samuel Leavis was arrested in Mobile in June 2001. Leavis was charged with failing to register as a sex offender when he moved to the city in 1990.