Legislature(2003 - 2004)

05/07/2004 06:40 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 179 - CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECKS/TEACHERS                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
[Contains adoption of  what would become known as HCR  42 for the                                                               
purpose of changing the title of SB 179.]                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 0950                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR McGUIRE announced that the  next order of business would be                                                               
CS FOR  SENATE BILL  NO. 179(FIN), "An  Act relating  to criminal                                                               
history records and background checks;  allowing persons to teach                                                               
in the  public schools for up  to five months without  a teaching                                                               
certificate if the  person has applied for a  certificate and the                                                               
application  has  not  been  acted  upon  by  the  Department  of                                                               
Education  and Early  Development  due to  a  delay in  receiving                                                               
criminal  history  records;  allowing teacher  certification  for                                                               
certain  persons based  on a  criminal  history background  check                                                               
without fingerprints; and providing for an effective date."                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  McGUIRE noted  that the  bill  has already  been heard  in                                                               
committee  and   was  being   held  over   for  the   purpose  of                                                               
investigating some issues that had  been raised during the bill's                                                               
last hearing.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 0988                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
ZACH  WARWICK, Staff  to Senator  Gene  Therriault, Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature,  sponsor,  on  behalf   of  Senator  Therriault,  in                                                               
response  to a  comment, said  that rather  than simply  altering                                                               
statute such  that a  person who  has made  an application  for a                                                               
teaching   certificate   can   teach  five   months   without   a                                                               
certificate,  the bill  was  changed so  that  the statute  would                                                               
maintain  the  original  three-month  period and  provide  for  a                                                               
possible 60-day  extension.  This  change came at  the suggestion                                                               
of  the Department  of Education  and  Early Development  (DEED).                                                               
The way  the bill is  currently written, if  there is a  delay in                                                               
getting back the  results of a criminal  history background check                                                               
within  three   months,  the  DEED  may   consider  granting  the                                                               
aforementioned  extension.    He  mentioned  that  the  DEED  has                                                               
indicated to  him that  this extension would  only be  granted in                                                               
extreme circumstances.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. WARWICK said  that without this provision,  what is currently                                                               
happening  is  that  once the  three-month  period  has  elapsed,                                                               
either teachers are laid off  and rehired as substitute teachers,                                                               
which requires no  background check, or they  must resubmit their                                                               
application and  be granted another  three-month period  in which                                                               
to  teach  without  a  certificate.    He  acknowledged  members'                                                               
concerns expressed  at the bill's  last hearing that  perhaps the                                                               
law should be changed so that  no one may teach until the results                                                               
of  the  criminal history  background  check  are received.    He                                                               
indicated  that  [the  sponsor]   is  willing  to  research  that                                                               
possibility during the interim.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR McGUIRE  said she is  not yet convinced that  the timeframe                                                               
in which  the results of  criminal history background  checks are                                                               
returned  has  been  shortened  to  six or  seven  weeks  as  was                                                               
testified  to at  the  bill's  last hearing.    She relayed  that                                                               
according to her understanding of  discussions she's had with the                                                               
DEED, because  of liability issues  it is very unlikely  that the                                                               
DEED would  ever grant the 60-day  extension.  In light  of this,                                                               
she said,  she doesn't see any  reason to put language  in a bill                                                               
that gives  the DEED  discretion that  won't be  utilized, adding                                                               
that she would  rather see folks work during the  interim to see,                                                               
first of  all, what the  problem is, and  second, how to  fix it.                                                               
She  remarked that  electronic fingerprint  scanners  might be  a                                                               
worthwhile investment  in the  future, but  relayed that  at this                                                               
point, she is  not comfortable including the  60-day extension in                                                               
the bill.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. WARWICK remarked that it  is not yet known whether electronic                                                               
fingerprint scanners  have approval  from the U.S.  Department of                                                               
Justice   (DOJ)  such   that  they   could  fulfill   the  DEED's                                                               
requirements.   He reiterated his  belief that Section 8  will be                                                               
of  assistance in  situations  where the  results  of a  criminal                                                               
history background  check are  delayed simply  because of  a work                                                               
backlog.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLM  indicated  that  his main  concern  is  the                                                               
safety of  the children, and thus  allowing someone to be  in the                                                               
classroom  before the  results of  a criminal  history background                                                               
check are known doesn't satisfy his concern.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. WARWICK  ventured that  Section 8  would ensure  that someone                                                               
who's results are  delayed by just a few days  wouldn't simply be                                                               
allowed in the classroom as a substitute teacher.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 1354                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA  made a  motion  to  adopt Amendment  1,  to                                                               
delete  the proposed  new language  in Section  8 -  the language                                                               
beginning  on page  5, line  1, through  page 5,  line 7.   There                                                               
being no objection, Amendment 1 was adopted.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  McGUIRE  pondered  whether  a  title  amendment  would  be                                                               
necessary.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. WARWICK  [suggested adopting]  a House  Concurrent Resolution                                                               
(HCR) for that purpose.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 1479                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR MCGUIRE moved  to report CSSB 179(FIN), as  amended, out of                                                               
committee  with individual  recommendations and  the accompanying                                                               
fiscal notes.   There being  no objection, HCS CSSB  179(JUD) was                                                               
reported from House Judiciary Standing Committee.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 1488                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SAMUELS  [although no  motion  had  been made  to                                                               
adopt  the  following  as  a  work draft]  moved  to  report  the                                                               
proposed House Concurrent  Resolution (HCR), Version 23-LS1942\A,                                                               
Luckhaupt,   4/16/04,   out    of   committee   with   individual                                                               
recommendations.  There being no  objection, the House Concurrent                                                               
Resolution  [which later  became HCR  42] was  reported from  the                                                               
House Judiciary Standing Committee.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                

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