CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — House Bill 3, an education funding package passed in the last legislative session, became law Jan. 1.
One provision of the bill requires school districts to monitor a statewide "Do Not Hire" registry of school employees accused of “certain allegations of misconduct”. It also requires districts to notify the Texas Education Agency when non-certified staff members are accused of misconduct.
West Oso Independent School District is one local district which checks every applicant's background, certified or not.
“In this day and age, you can't be so sure of what might have happened in someone's previous experience,” said West Oso ISD Superintendent Conrado Garcia.
The state already tracks misconduct by certified teachers. The president of one local teachers' union applauds the fact that non-certified staff have to meet the same requirements as certified colleagues.
There is, however, concern for staff who are accused if those accusations prove to be proved false.
“That's the fear that we have, is that some of the accusations will be false, because many times they are,” said Corpus Christi American Federation of Teachers President Dr. Nancy Vera.
Garcia believes most applicants are who they say they are, but the new law prevents what’s called “passing the trash”: accused staff switching districts.
“The more information we know, the better off we're going to be,” Garcia said.
Schools started reporting accusations to the TEA in September and the registry was rolled out to school districts this week. The TEA plans to make its list public in April.