Texas Schools Gearing up for Tougher Criminal Background Checks

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DALLAS (AP) - School district officials across Texas are gearing up for a new fingerprinting system designed to better catch criminals who may be working at public schools.

The new law takes effect in January.

It could help reveal the suspected 300 school workers believed to have a criminal past at the Dallas Independent School District, says George Santowski, the district's compliance director in the Office of Professional Responsibility.

Dallas and many other Texas districts already perform criminal background checks on new employees.

But the process doesn't catch employees who are using false personal information, and doesn't always include a nationwide check.

The new rule will require fingerprints from all teachers, administrators, counselors, librarians, substitute teachers and others to check for any past felonies or misdemeanors.