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No Teacher Checks After House Vote Law Requiring Fingerprinting Called Too Intrusive, Costly

The Idaho House rejected legislation Tuesday that would have required background checks for all new teachers and other school employees.

Opponents said the fingerprinting and checks would be invasive and expensive, and cited problems with the bill.

Coeur d’Alene schools already are fingerprinting and doing background checks on all employees. The school district started the program this school year, at a cost of $9,000.

Idaho has no standard requirement for background checks for teacher certification, though 25 states, including Washington, have some kind of check.

Bill sponsor Rep. Ron Black, R-Twin Falls, admitted the bill “wasn’t perfect,” but said it was needed to keep Idaho from becoming a magnet for undesirable teachers.

“The alternative is to allow those individuals to come to states that don’t have background checks, to prey on our children,” said Black.

Many bill opponents, like former teacher Rep. Carol Pietsch, D-Sandpoint, said the bill should “go back to the groups that worked on it” for fine tuning.”

Another teacher, Rep. Lenore Barrett, R-Challis, said the bill was an “invasion of privacy.”

Rep. Jeff Alltus, R-Coeur d’Alene, voted for the bill and said if insurance agents have to be fingerprinted, then so should teachers.

“We shouldn’t worry about the little bit of a problem it causes adults, let’s protect the children,” Alltus said.

Rep. Pete Black, D-Pocatello, argued that the bill would cause a “flood of 37,000 fingerprints for no good reason.”

The bill died on a 31-37 vote.

North Idaho representatives voting for the bill were Jim Stoicheff, D-Sandpoint; Alltus; Tom Dorr, R-Post Falls; Hilde Kellogg, R-Post Falls; and Wayne Meyer, R-Rathdrum. Voting against were Reps. Don Pischner, R-Coeur d’Alene; Chuck Cuddy, D-Orofino; June Judd, D-St. Maries; Pietsch; and Marv Vandenberg, D-Coeur d’Alene.