Blog



CMS.DataEngine.CollectionPropertyWrapper`1[CMS.DataEngine.BaseInfo]
Profile Image Verifile
| Referencing and Verification Services
February 26, 2020
Blog Article Image

Fake degree scam: ABVP threatens to gherao House

Protesting against issuing of five lakh fake degrees by two private universities in Himachal and inaction by the state government and Himachal Pradesh Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Commission (HPPEIRC), the ABVP locked the HPPEIRC office.

District convener Sachin said the government and regulatory commission have failed to rein in private universities. As a result, a big fake degree scam has surfaced.

He said such scams have brought a bad name to the state and the student community condemns such acts. The UGC had sent a letter to the government in August 2019 but no action was taken, he stated.

The ABVP state secretary Rahul Rana warned that the ABVP would intensify its agitation and even gherao the Vidhan Sabha in the coming days.

The Shimla police have registered a case under Sections 147,149,341, IPC, on the complaint of HPPEIRC secretary Poonam alleging that a protest was held by 20-25 people, headed by Vishal Verma, secretary ABVP, in front of the commission Office Phase III in New Shimla. The protesters blocked the way to the office and tried to close the office forcibly. The case is being investigated, police sources said.

Image: ABVP activists try to close the door of HP Private Educational Institutions
Regulatory Commission office during a protest at BCS in Shimla on Tuesday.

Read More
CMS.DataEngine.CollectionPropertyWrapper`1[CMS.DataEngine.BaseInfo]
Profile Image Verifile
| Criminal Record Checks | Referencing and Verification Services
February 26, 2020
Blog Article Image

If They Do Not Have Any Contact With Children

United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers, Local Union No. 37 v. North Allegheny School District, et al., 49 C.D. 2018, 2019 WL 5556265 (Pa. Cmwlth. Oct. 29, 2019).  Commonwealth Court confirms that school districts can require criminal background checks and/or bar employees from working in certain jobs based on the results of those background checks.

Factual Background:

In the summer of 2015, Pennsylvania Roofing Company successfully bid on a roofing project for the Fox Chapel Area School District. The project manual required each Pennsylvania Roofing employee to obtain criminal background checks as mandated by Section 111 of the School Code and Section 6344 of the Child Protective Services Law (“CPSL”). Eight Union members were denied clearance to work as a result of the background checks.

At about the same time, North Allegheny School District retained Massaro Construction Management Services to serve as construction manager for a roofing project at three project sites. Similarly, the general conditions agreed to by Massaro and North Allegheny required all workers to obtain criminal background checks in accordance with Section 111 of the School Code and Section 6344 of the CPSL. Six Union members were denied clearance to work on the North Allegheny roofing projects as a result of the background checks.

The Union subsequently filed a complaint against the School Districts seeking a declaration that: (1) the Union’s members were exempt from the requirements of Section 111 of the School Code and Section 6344 of the CPSL; (2) the Criminal History Record Information Act (“CHRIA”) prohibits the School Districts from refusing to employ Union members based on criminal background checks; and (3) the School Districts’ exclusion of Union members was a violation of due process.

The trial court agreed with the Union’s first argument and entered an order that allowed the previously disqualified Union members access to the School Districts’ work sites and prohibited the School Districts from conducting background checks on Union members unless the position applied for involved direct contact with children.

Discussion

Section 111 of the School Code, entitled criminal history of employees and prospective employees; conviction of certain offenses, provides, in relevant part:

(a.1) Beginning April 1, 2007, this section shall apply to all . . . independent contractors and their employees, except those employees and independent contractors and their employees who have no direct contact with children.

. . . .

(b) Administrators of public and private schools, intermediate units and area vocational-technical schools shall require prospective employees to submit with their employment application, pursuant to [CHRIA] (relating to criminal history record information), a report of criminal history record information from the Pennsylvania State Police or a statement from the Pennsylvania State Police that the [Pennsylvania] State Police central repository contains no such information relating to that person. . . .

24 P.S. § 1-111 (emphasis added).  Section 111 of the School Code thereafter delineates certain crimes and the corresponding employment ban for the individuals identified in Section 111(a.1) of the School Code.

The Union asserted that because Section 111(a.1) of the School Code contains an exception from the criminal background check requirement for employees who have no direct contact with children, and the School Districts did not present evidence that the Union employees would have direct contact with children, the School Districts violated Section 111 by requiring criminal background checks and barring Union employees from working as a result thereof. 

The School Districts, on the other hand, argued that while Section 111 of the School Code requires school districts to perform background checks for those individuals who have direct contact with children, it does not prohibit school districts from conducting background checks for individuals working on school property who do not have any contact with children. 

The Commonwealth Court agreed with the School Districts.  After reviewing the text of Section 111(a.1) of the School Code, the Court concluded that, as a matter of statutory construction, the statute does not prohibit school districts from requiring criminal background checks and/or barring employees from working in certain jobs based thereon.

The Court therefore reversed the trial court’s order and remanded the matter to address the Union’s CHRIA and constitutional arguments.

Practical Advice

Though the CHRIA and constitutional claims remain, the United Union confirms that the School Code does not prohibit school districts from insisting that all workers working on school property submit background checks and barring workers that fail such checks.  According, while this case should be monitored by District’s and their solicitors, the conditions contained in Fox Chapel’s project manual and North Allegheny’s general conditions are valid and similar conditions, until further notice, may be utilized by all school districts on their projects.

Read More
CMS.DataEngine.CollectionPropertyWrapper`1[CMS.DataEngine.BaseInfo]
Profile Image Verifile
| Referencing and Verification Services
February 26, 2020
Blog Article Image

DOI’s backlog of NYC employee background checks could take 4 years to fix

The city’s top watchdog agency is so behind in conducting background checks for new city employees that it doesn’t expect to catch up for another three to four years, a top official said.

In preparation for a City Council hearing on the subject Monday, Department of Investigation Commissioner Margaret Garnett sent a memo last month to the Council’s financial analyst, Jack Stern, noting the backlog had dropped to 5,328 employees by the end of 2019 in part due to the agency hiring additional investigators.

That’s 15 percent fewer than last March when Garnett testified at a Council investigation’s committee hearing that the backlog had reached 6,300 – including 1,900 cases dating back to 2016 that were yet to be reviewed. The caseload briefly rose to a high of 6,480 last July.

However, Garnett also said in the memo dated Jan. 24, that even with an extra 13 investigators, DOI doesn’t expect to “close the backlog” for another “36-48 months.”

Councilman Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx), who chairs the investigations committee, said he appreciates the DOI’s “greater sense of urgency” in reducing its backlog but the “sheer size remains embarrassing.”

“The longer these background investigations languish, the less value those investigations become,” the councilman told The Post Sunday.

“What’s the value in conducting a background investigation three, four, five years after the hiring of an employee?”

He said failing to reduce the backlog leaves the city more vulnerable to hiring sexual pervs and other bad apples — even throughout the “upper levels of city government.”

For instance, DOI never got around to doing a full background check on David Hay, a former ex-deputy chief of staff at the Department of Education fired late last year after being arrested for allegedly trying to arrange sex with a 14-year-old boy in Wisconsin.

Torres called Hay’s hiring a “debacle,” adding that he plans to ask Garnett and other DOI staff at Monday’s investigations committee hearing how Hay fell through the cracks to work “at the highest level of DOE.”

Torres also said there are unanswered questions about Kevin O’Brien, a former top aide to Mayor Bill de Blasio.

O’Brien was hired in 2016, only months after being canned from a previous post at the Democratic Governors Association in Washington, DC, following allegations of committing sexual harassment.

He wound up being quietly sacked by the city in 2017 for allegedly sexually harassing two city staffers.

O’Brien had submitted DOI notarized background forms that failed to list the previous allegations before the city hired him, Garnett testified at the Council hearing last March.

DOI said that as of Sunday, it had decreased the backlog down to about 4,895 employees, adding that Garnett recognizes “the serious issue she inherited” when replacing former Commissioner Mark Peters in November 2018 and has taken “steps” to address it with the additional staffing.

The agency said its goal is to complete background investigations within six months

“Ultimately, hiring agencies, not DOI, make the decision regarding whether to wait for the outcome of a background investigation before allowing an employee to begin working,” DOI said.

Read More