8/1/2014

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Efforts to close loophole that kept sex offender working at school

Efforts to close loophole that kept sex offender working at school
WASHINGTON STATE -- Background checks are supposed to weed out the questionable employees, and, in most cases, they do.

Still, it doesn't catch crimes committed after they're hired. This loophole allowed a sex offender to be employed around children.

Seattle Public Schools was shocked to learn a sex offender was working as a high school janitor. He went undetected for nearly a decade. It was only found through a state audit.

Concerned mom Nicole Hughes said, "Kind of gives me goose bumps and peeves me off a little bit."

She never imagined such a scenario for her child, but under the current system, it's happening more than you think. Background checks are normally done only when a person is first hired. If someone commits a dangerous crime during the course of their employment, there's no way to know for sure if they are a risk to your kids. That's what happened in Seattle.

Nicole continued, "I'm not OK with loopholes and the fact that somebody can squeeze through the cracks."

It's why the Washington State Auditor wants the "rap back" system in place. Rap back would provide ongoing monitoring for school employees, foster parents, many licensed health care workers - and even police. As it stands, periodic checks are mostly required only on the state level.

Washington is one of only ten states not using this system at all. We're missing out on real-time notifications for criminal activity.

There are barriers with implementing the system. The law would have to change - and of course there's money and technology upgrades. School officials tell say it's all well worth it.

Tony Howard runs the human resources department for a local school. He's already working to fill the gaps on the requirements for volunteers.

"The more we know, the better we can make sure we have people in front of our kids that are safe to be there. That's really the bottom line," he said.

Nicole couldn't agree more.

She said, "It gives me a little more comfort. I absolutely think it should be done."

Protecting your kids at all costs.

The startup costs for the rap back system are about $350,000.
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