School Employee Fingerprinting

Five years ago, the state of Alabama began mandating fingerprint checks for school workers who have unsupervised access to students. Implementing the law statewide has taken several years. School employees in one Wiregrass city are now being asked to surrender their prints.

Over the last 25 years, Girard Elementary School teacher Jane Greiner has shared her knowledge with students. Now she and other teachers are sharing their fingerprints to ensure the students are safe.

Greiner says, "I think it's a good thing for the children. It protects the children and also it protects the staff."

The Dothan city school district has nearly 1100 employees. The district already conducts background checks on new employees, but this goes farther. Prints are scanned and loaded onto a disk and then are sent off for analysis.

Dell Goodwin of the personnel department says, "the Alabama Bureau of Investigation first checks it, then after it clears with them they send it to the Federal Bureau of Investigation."

The state is looking for felonies or anything that would directly put students in danger. And some parents say it gives them piece of mind. Teachers we talked with don't see it as an invasion of privacy.

The state is paying to fingerprint employees hired before July of 1999. But those hired after the new rules took affect have to come up with $49 out of their own pockets to be checked.