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Tuesday, October 22, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Spokane schools will not ‘ban the box’ on job applications

Spokane Public Schools will continue to ask job applicants about their criminal history, despite a Spokane city ruling outlawing the practice.

“We think there are a couple exemptions that would be applicable to the district,” said Linda McDermott, the district’s interim chief human resources officer.

Specifically, there is a provision in the law that allows businesses hiring employees who will work with unsupervised children to continue to ask about criminal histories. And, there is a state law that requires school employees to complete a background check.

McDermott said the district considers the circumstances of an employee’s criminal history, and does not automatically reject an applicant simply because they have a conviction.

State law also allows private schools to “require their employees with regularly unsupervised access to children be fingerprinted for a record check…”

“I don’t think that (ban the box) will impact us at all, said Jamie Tender the headmaster of Saint George’s School.

Michael Dougherty, the president of Gonzaga Prep , echoed Tender noting that the private Catholic school is required by law to run background checks. However, he said the school considers a person’s criminal history on a case-by-case basis.

“As a Catholic organization we support efforts for the reconciliation for people who have made criminal offenses and their abilities to have livelihoods,” he said.

The law passed Monday by the Spokane City Council includes similar exemptions for employers seeking applicants working with physical or mental disabilities and those requiring a legal guardian. That can include social workers, caretakers and other health professionals.

Those applying for law enforcement positions in the state are also exempted from the “ban the box” rule, which will be enforced beginning at the end of 2019.

Reporter Kip Hill contributed to this report.

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