Indiana gets ‘F’ grade for how it vets teachers

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Feb. 16, 2016) - Just days after a former Park Tudor basketball coach was arrested for allegedly sending inappropriate messages to a 15-year-old student, Indiana was given an "F" grade for how the state reports problematic teachers.

USA Today ranked all 50 states based on how they do background checks on teachers and if that state reports to a national database of teacher discipline cases. On both counts, according to the report, Indiana failed in keeping troubled teachers out of classrooms.

“USA Today concluded Indiana scored an 'F,'” said IndyStar state education reporter Chelsea Schneider.

The USA Today report claims Indiana didn’t provide every teacher violation to a national database and when it comes to background checks, a teacher can receive certification even if a background check hasn’t been fully vetted.

“States are allowed to develop their own policies about what they report, so in Indiana, the Department of Education reports teacher revocations and suspensions to the national database,” said Schneider.

Schneider broke down Indiana’s grade in an IndyStar report.

“We found some teachers who had their license either revoked or suspended weren’t then reported to the national database and the Department of Education said they’re reviewing those records and they intend to report all teachers they have the correct documentation for,” she said.

The Indiana Department of Education released this response to the report:

“Every suspension and revocation done during this administration has been reported to NASDTEC. The Department is reviewing those done under prior administrations to determine what should have been reported.”

“There’s nothing in Indiana law that says that we have to report to that database,” said Julie Slavens, the Attorney for the Indiana School Boards Association.

While the national database may come in handy for schools hiring candidates from out of state, as Slavens notes, there’s no law in Indiana or in the federal government that requires states to report to the database, which leaved the door open for 50 different interpretations of how to vet a teacher.

“I think most of them, by and large, are very careful about who they hire and do, do the background checks and do due diligence and all that,” said Slavens.

Only 11 other states received an "F" grade.

The report found Indiana always reported convictions or arrests, but not, every allegation filed against a teacher.

 

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