The children called him “Mr. Smiley.” Students say the 35-year-old bus monitor was very friendly and gave out candy to the kids on his bus. But on Halloween, “Mr. Smiley” got caught up in a sting. He was charged with possession and transfer of child pornography.
Anyone employed by the school system has to pass a yearly criminal background check… but this man was employed by a third party vendor. Currently, federal background checks are not required for bus drivers and monitors.
Rhode Island State Representative Antonio Giarrusso has an 11-year old son who rode on that bus. Rep. Giarrusso sponsored a bill to close that loophole. The bill was signed by Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee over the summer. Under the new law, third-party vendors and contract employees would be required to pass local and national criminal background checks. That includes union and non-union employees as well as mentors, volunteers and coaches.
This case clearly shows that you can never dig deeply enough to protect the vulnerable. It is essential for any organization, especially those that hire people to work with children, to do nothing less than a comprehensive background check which includes local, statewide and national criminal information. This type of thorough background check will provide you with the best possible information for your decision making process.
While no check can catch every single person with bad intentions… you owe it to those in your care to use all of the tools available. True due diligence is the best way to keep potential predators away from our children.
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