During its most recent legislative session, the Tennessee legislature enacted a bill that applies to all employers who enter into contracts with local boards of education or child care programs to provide services. With respect to all contracts entered into on and after September 1, 2007, and all contract renewals on and after September 1, 2007, employers must comply with certain requirements concerning employees who will have direct contact with school children or children in a child care program, or who will have access to the grounds of a school or child care center when children are present.
Specifically, an employer must require all such employees to supply a fingerprint sample and submit to a criminal history records check to be conducted by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation prior to permitting the employees to have contact with school children or children at a child care center, or to enter the grounds of a school or child care center. Moreover, the employer must receive the results of the records check before permitting its employees to perform work at those institutions when children are present. If the records check reveals that an employee has been convicted or has plead guilty or no contest to a sexual offense, the employee may not have access to the school or child care center when children are present.
This new legislation raises several practical issues for employers who have contracts with school districts or child care programs, including how to obtain authorization from employees and applicants to run the necessary records checks, what to do if you receive negative information on a long-term employee, when checks must/should be conducted, and whether any steps should be taken before a new contract is signed or an existing contract is renewed. For guidance on any of these or related questions, please feel free to contact any of our Labor and Employment attorneys.