Criminal record checks slow down Nunavut’s school hiring
“This is all done to protect children”
Nunavut’s school administrators say they’re losing potential teachers and staff due to stricter criminal reference checks.
Anyone who applies to work in what’s considered a vulnerable sector – in jobs which involve working with children, elders or handicapped – must submit a criminal reference check to the organization they want to work for.
Since July 2010, the RCMP has tightened that system to ensure no pardoned sex offender falls through the cracks and gets a job in a place where he or she will be in contact with children, elders or the handicapped.
And that has created a delay in hiring new teachers, said Kivalliq School Operations director Shelley Pepler.
“Even if your gender and your date of birth match with someone on the sex offenders list, you get flagged,” Pepler told Nunatsiaq News. “We have applicants — through no fault of their own — coming back saying they need to get cleared. And by the time they get back to us, the position is either filled or closed.”
Pepler called the process “expensive” and “time-consuming.”
“Police services must be overwhelmed too,” she said. “We don’t blame them, but many get caught up in the process.”
Before July 2010, applicants would go to their local police station and provide their name, gender and date of birth for a criminal records check.
But RCMP Sgt. Julie Gagnon said police discovered that pardoned sex offenders in some jurisdictions could legally change their names without giving a fingerprint sample.
That meant that the criminal record check might not catch these sex offenders, Sgt. Gagnon said.
“So after July 2010, applicants have been asked to provide their gender and date of birth,” she said. “If they match with a pardoned sex offender, you’re asked to submit fingerprints.”
Those fingerprints are sent to Ottawa to be checked against the national sex offenders’ database.
Some jurisdictions can submit fingerprints electronically, which takes two to three days.
But many fingerprints are submitted on paper and that checking process can take 10 weeks, Gagnon said.
And if an applicant has a criminal record, the check can take several months.
“This is all done to protect children and make sure they’re not in contact with sex offenders,” Gagnon said.
The Kivalliq School Operations says that while the record checks have slowed its hiring process, it has filled all but a couple positions in the region’s schools for the 2011-12 school year.
The KSO receives resignations from outgoing teachers in April each year, and will generally advertise for those same jobs within the same month.
KSO representatives who visit southern job fairs always let interested applicants know about the criminal record check process and the potential timelines.
See the RCMP’s brochure on vulnerable sector criminal checks here.