BACKGROUND CHECKS: DMPS Policy Questioned

Everyone wants safe schools.  That’s why there is now a law requiring Iowa schools to perform background checks on their employees every five years.

But a teacher’s aide, with 16-years of experience, says the Des Moines School District is asking for too much information, which she fears could wind up in the wrong hands.

Vicki Janssen says she doesn’t have a problem with the district doing the background check, “I think it should be done.”

She does have a problem with how much information is collected and where it’s stored.

“I have no problem with my employer knowing my background check, but not a third-party.”

One of those third parties is a company called “What’s Their Background.”  It is owned and operated by Iowa Schools Financial Information Services, or ISFIS.  ISFIS has contracted with at least a hundred Iowa schools to perform background checks on their employees.

Margaret Buckton, a founding partner of ISFIS says she’s confident the information is accurate and secure.

“We’re confident because we have human people in this country and in Des Moines.”

In Des Moines that person is an ISFIS employee.  His background?

“His background is in accounting and data analysis, not criminal background, but looking at data.”

Buckton says the background check is all about data analysis.  Others disagree.  Janssen is worried about phrases in the release form “Authorizing without reservation, any party or agency contacted by what’s their background or Intellicorp to furnish the above mentioned information.”

Des Moines attorney, Mike Keller says Janssen has reason to be concerned,  “The broad nature in which the release is drafted is disturbing and leaves room for abuse.”

Janssen says she paid the Division of Criminal Investigation and the Department of Human Services to send her criminal and background information to the Des Moines School District, but the district refused it.

Janssen now faces an ultimatum:  Sign the release or risk losing her job.

“I just can’t do it.”

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