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Background Checks to be Required for University Job Applicants

Background Checks to be Required for University Job Applicants

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EPHRAIM, Utah (AP) -- Criminal background checks will soon be required for anyone who wants a job teaching at the state's public colleges and universities.

The State Board of Regents approved the policy during its meeting at Snow College in Ephraim on Friday. "We want safe universities," said Rep. Ronda Menlove, a Republican from Garland who sponsored legislation requiring the background checks.

Applicant for a position in a university or college that involves students under age 21, or a position that is security sensitive, such as dealing with finances will be required to have a background check as a condition of employment.

The background checks will be phased in over the next two years.

A total of $728,000 was appropriated by the Legislature to begin the program. Ongoing funds of $58,700 are slated annually thereafter. The bill requires universities and colleges to pay for the background checks, but also allows the cost to be passed on to the applicant if the school chooses.

Committee member Rick Brown, chief of public safety at Southern Utah University in Cedar City, says he believes the background search could cost about $20 to $30 per person. Menlove cited an incident at Penn State University as a reason to require background checks. A professor there was employed for years before the school discovered he had been convicted of murder as a teen.

Menlove also points to the fact that many students are graduating early from high school and heading to college. Further, she said, the number of high school students coming onto college campuses for concurrent enrollment classes continues to climb. The number increased from 19,700 in 1998 to 27,000 students in 2006, according to the State Office of Higher Education.

------ Information from: Standard-Examiner

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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