Chippewa Valley (WQOW) – Many students head back to class next week. So, we wanted to find out how districts hire teachers, with clean backgrounds.
The screening actually begins when people apply for teaching licenses. The Department of Public Instruction does fingerprinting and criminal record checks. Then, when teachers apply to schools, the district does another background check. The Chippewa Falls School District uses an application program called ‘WECAN’, which is overlooked by the Wisconsin Association of School Personnel Administrators.
“We screen them based on their responses,” said Michelle Golden, director of Human Resources and Public Relations at the Chippewa Falls School District. “So, it’s really difficult to screen people based on a piece of paper, but we look at, ‘What are their qualifications? What are their experiences?’ And we then pick what we feel are the best-qualified staff members and bring them into an interview.”
This summer, the district created an ‘Integrity Screener’, which can give districts insight into the applicants’ personality and behavior. They also follow up with another criminal check and sometimes check social media before hiring.
But background checks are not guaranteed to catch everything.
“There have been situations where we have done a complete background check or an integrity interview and dotted all our I’s and crossed our T’s, where things have happened,” said Golden. “And that has happened in almost every organization across the United States.”
Golden said it’s their job to keep a close eye on their staff, but encourage students and parents to keep watch as well. Interim Altoona School Superintendent Ron Walsh believes hiring is the most important job they do.
“We trust these people with our kids, and we want to make sure we have the best people in front of them,” said Walsh. “That’s the role of all of our administrative team. We take that seriously.”
Altoona recently updated its staff social media policy to clear the blurred lines between teacher and student relations outside of the classroom. But if questions are raised about faculty, Walsh said they have to listen to both sides of the story and investigate.