With 2 arrests, what background checks must teachers go through - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

With 2 arrests, what background checks must teachers go through

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Some 65,000 educators work in the state of Arizona, but Department of Education spokesperson Jennifer Liewer says there are some bad apples.

"99.999 percent of them are there for the right reasons, (but it's) frustrating when you have somebody who isn't representative of that group and who comes in with bad intentions," she said.

Two such people were arrested for crimes against children this week alone. Thursday, Alvin McClellan, a special education teacher's assistant at Mohave Middle School, was arrested after an investigation found hundreds of pictures of videos of child pornography at his home. Friday, James Giannipoulos, a teacher at Centennial Middle School was arrested after sending inappropriate text messages to a student under 15.

CBS 5 News looked into the background procedures all school employees must go through in order to be hired. According to state law, certified personnel, like teachers, have to have fingerprint clearance cards issued by the Department of Public Safety. DPS also conducts a nationwide background check on all applicants for a certified position.

For non-certified personnel, like teaching assistants or janitors, state law is slightly different. Statute 15-512 requires "the Department of Public Safety completes a statewide criminal history information check on the applicant."

But no such record exists in the case of McClellan.

"The school district did not submit, and the DPS did not receive an application request or a background request for that individual," said DPS spokesperson Raul Garcia.

Two days after CBS 5 News requested information on McClellan's background history, a spokesperson for Scottsdale Unified School District released a copy of McClellan's background check. However, it was performed by an outside company, not by the Department of Public Safety.

"It is the responsibility of the school district to protect the children to keep them safe. And this is one of those laws - one of the policies in place that affords that to a school district to protect the children," said Garcia

CBS 5 News called and emailed a spokesperson for the district asking why a background check was never submitted to DPS. The district did not respond.

It's unclear why the process was never submitted to DPS. Liewer said it's ultimately up to the school district's school board to ensure applicants are properly screened and applications are properly submitted.

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