New rules for school teachers

By Layron Livingston - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - Veteran teacher, Tracie Rand, says things have changed since she started teaching.

"It's a lot harder now just to get into a building," said Rand. "It is a more of a closed campus environment. You come into the front. All the other entries are locked for safety. When you go into a school you have to swipe your driver's license, just to go have lunch with your kids and I think it's great."

Rand says fingerprinting, is a good move.

"By making it a state mandate, you make it a lot easier for there not to be places where people fall through the cracks," explained Rand.

As of last week, of the more than 1,000 Texas school districts, more than 260 completed the fingerprinting process and just over 200 were in the works. 151 had been scheduled.

Just over 10% of the prints came back with felony or misdemeanor hits.

"It's just another layer of added security," said Tyler ISD director of communications, Angela Jenkins.

She says they started finger-printing new-employees in January. But the district has not been notified by TEA to start getting prints on everyone.

"We upload our current employee list and create a database for TEA to work with...and then they will assist and TEA designates a location in the district to do the fingerprinting," said Jenkins.

Superintendent Stan Surratt says, right now, every potential Lindale ISD employee goes through an extensive background check, including fingerprinting. But, it's not without its headaches.

"We have to make appointments and sometimes it may be two or three weeks before we get a potential employee in to get that fingerprinting," said Surratt.

He says cost is also an issue. He says Lindale pays, but not every district does.

"As a new person coming into education, that extra added expense could be hard," said Rand.

It's a price some feel just has to be paid.

"Anything we can do to make sure our kids are protected I think is great," said Carla Boyette, a parent.

The fingerprint check runs about $52. However, TEA says school employees who were full time by the 06-07 school year and are still full-time, will have their fingerprint checks paid for.

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