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Chico State adopts new background check policy

Lauren Anderson

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New student and faculty hires may feel less intimidated by a background check policy change that eliminates the need for fingerprinting and speeds the entire process along.

The new policy, Accurate Background, provides a background check online in which the candidate simply fills out a questionnaire, said Sheryl Woodward, director of human resources.

The answers are sent in an email which begins the background check process, she said.

The website uses a secure court interface and searches the National Criminal Database, which is compiled from US court records. This data is then sourced from county courts and statewide criminal databases, as well as sex offender and correctional databases, Woodward said.

“The typical job interview can be intimidating for some, especially student hires, but the act of entering a police station for fingerprinting is off-putting to nearly anyone,” said Maria DeCastro, journalism and public relations professor.

Most candidates and employees will not require fingerprinting, Woodward said.

The policy states that criminal record and sexual offender registry checks are mandatory for employees, along with volunteers and consultants who work at CSU-hosted recreational camps and clinics where minors participate.

These cases require fingerprinting, she said.

The policy is statewide and is to be adopted by all schools in the CSU system, said David Buckley, executive director of Associated Students.

“There’s a difference between a live-scan and a background check,” Buckley said.

A background check can include a variety of things, such as credit history or education verification, while a live-scan background uses fingerprints to check conviction records.

One large complaint from the faculty is the extensive amount of time it can take for a live-scan to clear.

“The old process required multiple offices: paperwork from the hiring department, fingerprints by the Chico Police Department and final approval filed and reported by human resources,” DeCastro said.

The lag in processing time was high and quality control decreased as files passed through administration, she said.

“It can be frustrating because we typically want to hire students at the beginning of the semester,” said Glenna Morgan, professor of communication design.

GlennMugWEB.jpg

Glenna Morgan, professor of communication design, expressed her concerns with the live-scan background checks due to its timeliness factor. Photo credit: Lauren Anderson

 

Results for Accurate Background screenings usually take three days after completing the questionnaire and submitting it, Woodward said.

Types of background checks required vary depending on the position, and if the person is a new hire or have been gone for an extended time.

However, the new policy will not affect:

  • current employees
  • student employees (in some cases)
  • faculty participating in faculty early retirement program (FERP)
  • employees who are re-appointed to the same class and campus within one year

“Not all students have to be live-scanned, but those handling equipment, dealing with students or locking and unlocking classrooms do,” Morgan said.

Based on the status of the candidate and nature of the position, one or more of the following background checks may be conducted on Accurate Background:

  • Reference checks: The campus contacts current and previous employers
  • Employment verification: The campus will verify all employment from the last 10 years
  • Education verification: Verification that all requirements appropriate to the position are met
  • Criminal record check: A third-party agency conducts this, such as the University Police Department

Automatic disqualifications include convictions of embezzlement, fraud or threat, child molestation and/or other sex offenses or workplace or domestic violence.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” DeCastro said.

Candidates cannot be discriminated against for things like race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, age, physical/mental disability or marital status, according to the policy.

Human resources is in the process of securing the last stages of the website.

“I’m interested to see how efficient the system will be,” DeCastro said. “The new web-based system will hopefully streamline the process, relieve nervous candidates and free the Chico Police Department, HR office and hiring parties to focus on other archaic practices still in queue.”

Lauren Anderson can be reached at [email protected] or @laurentaylora on Twitter.

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Chico State adopts new background check policy