Charlotte Mecklenburg School District Stopped Fingerprinting for a Year

Many CMS teachers, staff not fingerprinted

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) stopped fingerprinting new employees for about a year. CMS says it paused fingerprinting in July 2018 because it changed companies. They say that 3,533 employees were hired between July 2018 and June 2019. They weren’t fingerprinted and that thought concerns some in the community.

“We got our little children going around and stuff like that,” CMS grandparent David Ardrey said. “We don’t know how people act when they come from different states - we don’t know.”

Fingerprinting allows the district to further examine arrest records and convictions of employees. CMS policy states, “all applicants for employment will be required to submit to fingerprinting.”

Some question if changing companies means not following policy. CMS Board Chair Mary McCray tells WBTV the board was recently made aware of this change in fingerprint status. She also referred us to talk to Superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox about this matter. CMS Chief Communications Officer Tracy Russ did send this response.

"CMS continues to strengthen and upgrade safety and security measures to help keep all students and staff safe at school. As one part of these increased safety and security efforts, CMS wants to make sure that the most comprehensive, up-to-date information is used to screen potential employees. That is why a new background check process that uses comprehensive, deeper screening procedures and more extensive database search technologies began in July 2018. This stronger background check process includes screening of databases from more localities, states and agencies, faster processing so that CMS is aware of potential safety or security concerns quickly, reduced potential for screening failures or misses because of incomplete information, and reduced time to hire talented, dedicated educators and staff for our students. CMS will continue to review and update background check procedures along with other safety and security measures to keep students and staff safe in schools.
CMS Statement on Strengthened Employee Background Checks – June

• All potential CMS employees must pass a comprehensive background check.

• CMS has resumed fingerprinting and will update background checks as needed.

• Background Investigation Services (BIB.com) was selected as the CMS background check resource in July 2018. BIB serves a large number of school districts in North Carolina. BIB screens candidates through over 450 million unique records from over 3,200 public agencies.

• All CMS employees are screened each night for NC charges or convictions to uphold standards of safety and security.

• CMS joins other districts in North Carolina and across the US in adopting new technologies and methods to better protect students and staff through strengthened background checks."

Employees who didn’t get fingerprinted must schedule a time to get it done before July 15.

Sylvia Ardrey has four grand-kids who attend CMS. She is concerned fingerprinting stopped. She says she used to work for CMS for more than ten years - she knows the process.

“I had to be criminally background checked,” CMS grandparent Sylvia Ardrey said. “Fingerprinted and that sort of thing before I could go on CMS property anyway - because that’s what I was told. It’s just too much stuff going on for them not to have the fingerprinting process...That’s really crazy.”

CMS says fingerprinting for school years 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 cost the District $217,678.

The school district used to use the company FirstPoint to conduct its background checks. The cost for the 2017-2018 school year was $298,884. The new company is Background Investigations Bureau (BIB). It is charging CMS $253,881.20 but not all invoices are in.

“It seems like they are on top of it,” CMS teacher Brittany Bowron said. “But we can’t take those kinds of risks.”

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