By: Allen Johnson
In the wake of a rash of unrelated sexual misconduct cases in area schools, House Speaker Pro Tem Karen Carter Peterson of New Orleans has filed a bill to expand the scope of criminal background checks for people who supervise children. Current state law limits the scope of background checks from the Louisiana Bureau of Criminal Identification and Information to 10 years prior to the date of the request. Petersons bill (HB426) would remove the time limit and require the bureau to provide all criminal records, in accordance with federal and state confidentiality laws. In the most egregious example of recent misconduct cases, a custodian at a Slidell public high school is in jail, booked with sexual attacks against four boys all under the age of 12. This is a case that cries out for review of the hiring practices of state and parish school systems, says Anthony Radosti, vice president of the private Metropolitan Crime Commission, which assisted law enforcement officers in the investigation. The suspects background check by school authorities contained a bank fraud conviction and several arrests, including restraining orders filed by members of his immediate family, Radosti says. Even though the cases listed did not allege sexual misconduct, Radosti says the pre-employment records should have been red flags.