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Computer will check fingerprints

School districts that plan to hire soon will have a new tool to make the job easier – a fingerprint-checking computer.

Tuesday, October 12, 1999

School districts that plan to hire soon will have a new tool to make the job easier – a fingerprint-checking computer.

"It will be easier on districts so before they hire they can get answers about prospective employees," Lawrence County Educational Service Center superintendent Harold Shafer said.

With the new system, most background checks can be made within days instead of months, he said.

The center board sought a $3,500 Ohio Department of Education grant for the fingerprint computer to increase efficiency, not because districts have had a problem with employees’ backgrounds, Shafer said.

According to state law, anyone employed by a school district must undergo a background check with the state’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Information, including a fingerprint exam, he said.

If they have not lived continuously in Ohio for the last five years, then they must undergo an FBI background check, too.

In the past, districts were faced with waiting one to three months for the background checks to come back, Shafer said.

While waiting, districts could hire employees on a 90-day probationary-type period, but if the employee turned out not to be employable, then more time was wasted continuing the hiring process, he said.

With the new computer system, such delays might not happen, he said.

Linked with state computers, the center’s computer will have a bar-code-type reader for drivers’ licenses and a device that scans fingertip patterns directly into the system to compare with state records, Shafer said.

"It will cut the waiting down to not longer than two business days," he said

The FBI still wants fingerprint cards taken in ink, but cutting down the time it takes for state answers will make it easier on the county’s districts when they are taking applications because they can send applicants to the service center office for the fast fingerprint work, Shafer added.

And the process will lower costs to individual school districts, too, he said.

The service center will spend $2,800 of the grant on software and the balance on other equipment and training, he added.