A new feature to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s (FDLE) sex-offender registry allows users to look for offenders enrolled, employed or volunteering at institutions of higher education (i.e. career centers, community colleges, state universities or independent postsecondary institutions). The feature was added in October, 2013.
Florida State College at Jacksonville has 51 offenders enrolled at its campuses, the most of any colleges in the state, according to an article in the Florida Times-Union. Currently, the school does not prohibit students with a criminal history from enrolling, and does not inquire about a student’s criminal background and does not do background checks on students. But this may change, as in December, the school’s Cabinet will evaluate whether or not they should make changes to the admissions process.
A report on the matter by the school’s lawyers was submitted to the Cabinet in early November this year. The Times-Union article reports that,
“FSCJ doesn’t have a policy regarding past criminal history of students including sex offenders. It recommends the college adopt some type of policy in the first few paragraphs.
“The current process may not adequately protect, or sufficiently notify, the college community,” the 43-page report said.
“There are three policy options that college campuses across the state implement — admit all sex offenders, a partial ban or a complete ban.”
Other colleges in the state, such as the University of North Florida and the University of Florida, ask applicants about their criminal history, and review self-disclosed information on an individual basis.
As we’ve stated in previous blogs, we think it is a good thing for colleges to review their background screening program and policies. Whatever decision Florida State College at Jacksonville’s Cabinet will make in December on whether or not to adopt a new admissions background check policy, they have demonstrated that they are proactively examining their program, a move we applaud.