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Senate bill would make school hires subject to national background check

Updated: January 15, 2013 6:08PM



INDIANAPOLIS — A bill in the Senate would require new school employees to undergo a national background check, changing the option school districts had to choose a state background check.

Bills that regarded switch-blade knives, as well as which medical professionals may draw blood to test for intoxication and stricter enforcement of vehicular manslaughter were also discussed during a hearing of the Senate Corrections and Criminal Law committee. Also, the committee is weighing when criminal charges are appropriate for a mental health professional who attempts to seduce a client age 16-18.

School corporations that either hire new employees or contractors who would have direct contact with students are required to do a background check, but the law allows the administration to choose whether the search be through a national database, or a state background check.

State Sen. Tom Wyss, R-Fort Wayne, authored the bill with support from Sen. Jim Arnold, D-LaPorte.

Requiring that new employees go through a national background check can identify problems with the law in the past, even if it’s outside of the state.

“This bill doesn’t affect whether or not they have a background check,” Sen. R. Michael Young, R-Indianapolis, said. “It just affects how they do the background check.”

The cost for the check will be taken on by the applicant, adding no additional cost to schools.

The bill received support from school associations and teacher associations.

Allowing more medical professionals to take blood to test for alcohol was also considered in the committee, but the bill will receive amendments before moving forward.

The bill stems from a court case where a medical technician trained to draw blood took a sample, according to Denise Robinson of the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, but the case was challenged in court. The law currently requires a specific list of professionals, restricted to physicians, paramedics, advanced emergency medical technicians, registered nurses and licensed practical nurses.

Larry Landis of the Indiana Public Defenders Council said the current proposal was too broad, allowing anyone the ability to draw blood, but he welcomed the idea of allowing more medical professionals who are trained, provided they are given authority by a physician.

Vehicular manslaughter may face harsher penalties, moving from a Class D felony to a Class C, if a bill in the Senate moves forward.

A Class C felony can face between two and eight years in prison and fines up to $10,000, compared to six months to three years and $10,000 in a Class D felony.

Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage, opposed the bill because its language specifies the death of a fetus. She said she felt the state law does not need to add that.

Mental health professionals who attempt to seduce a child between 16 and 18 years of age could face charges. Current law specifies parents, guardians, child care providers, and military recruiters. The bill would add mental health counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists.

A bill to allow the sale of blades that open through spring-assisted mechanism passed through the committee. Similar bills have been introduced in the past, but failed to gain support in the House.



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