Thorough background checks should be standard policy for school districts

Thorough background checks should be standard policy for school districts

Excerpted from Chicago Tribune by Randy Blaser

When I wanted to coach my sons’ youth baseball team, I had to submit to a criminal background check.
And when I wanted to go on a camp out when they were in the Boy Scouts, I had to submit to a criminal background check.

When I volunteered with my local Rotary Club to mentor at-risk junior high students, I again had to submit to a criminal background check.
And when I wanted to supervise Scouts at my church’s Christmas tree lot, I again had to submit to the check.
Interestingly, not once did any of these organizations accept background checks done by someone else. The school where I volunteered had to have their own background check done, even though I had gone through a long list of previous checks.

Apparently, that was not the exactly approach at Sunset Ridge School District 29 in Northfield.
Because inexplicably, officials there accepted a background check done by two different outside vendors on an employee who worked at the school as both a custodian and food service worker.
School officials admit that they did not order their own criminal background check of this contract worker, which really was too bad. As it turned out this employee, David Garcia-Espinal, 40, of Highwood, had a previous criminal history.

According to police and court records, Garcia-Espinal was charged in 2012 with felony possession of fraudulent ID cards and disorderly conduct in connection with alleged lewd conduct in a women’s restroom at a Glenview movie theater.

This former employee is now alleged by police to have put a trash can with a hidden video camera in a bathroom at the school, a bathroom frequented by female staff members and students. A felony warrant was issued for his in January and as of the writing of this column, he remains at large.
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