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Education news and issues in the Ozarks.

New State Law Helps Qualifying Entities Keep Tabs on Employees' Criminal Activity


The RAP Back program was authorized in the state by Missouri House Bill 1350, which went into effect in late August.  It allows entities that are enrolled to receive ongoing status notifications of new arrests, both in Missouri and in other states, once employees’ fingerprints are in the system.

"So the old background check, basically, would give you a check at that time, and this system, basically, gives you a continual--if there are arrests that happen after the finger print-based background checks, then this entity will receive notification of that," said Captain John Hotz, director of public information and education with the Missouri State Highway Patrol, which administers the program in the state. 

The program will cut back on the need to re-fingerprint, the need for continuous background checks and the need for an individual to self report, according to Hotz.

Entities eligible to enroll in RAP Back include public and private schools, healthcare providers, childcare and eldercare providers and city, county and state licensing agencies among others. 

Springfield Public Schools has already enrolled in the RAP Back program.  SPS chief human resources officer, Penny Rector, said it allows them to ensure an ongoing safe work environment for staff and students.

"I think the opportunity to have prompt and immediate information coming back to the district about any arrests or any issues with employees will allow us to more quickly assess the situations to determine whether and when it's appropriate for us to take action," she said.

According to Rector, not every arrest or infraction will result in disciplinary action by the district.  They’ll assess all information received through the program to determine if further action is necessary.

SPS had already opted a couple of years ago to go back and conduct background checks on all employees hired prior to 2005, according to Rector. That's when she said the Missouri Legislature mandated background checks.  "We feel very comfortable about the status of all of our employees," she said.

Volunteers in schools undergo the state background check process, according to Rector.

Employees hired after 2015 will be enrolled in the RAP Back program.  Rector said they'll continue to do state-based and federal background checks. 

Kerry Creach, CJIS program manager with the Missouri State Highway Patrol, said approximately 270 agencies have enrolled in RAP Back so far. 

Missouri is one of three states that are approved for Federal RAP Back.  The others are Texas and Utah.  Creach said states must have legislative authority to participate.