Beginning January 1, 2015, Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts will implement a new policy that was designed to protect minors as well as others on campus.
According to online information published by the school, as well as an article in the Taunton Gazette, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously on December 10, 2014 to approve the Policy to Protect Minors and Prevent Abuse, which requires all newly hired employees to undergo criminal and sex offender background checks. The policy applies to those being hired for full-time, part-time and temporary positions, extends to volunteers and vendors who work or interact with minors in campus programs, and also applies to outside groups that want to use the university’s facilities for programs involving minors.
Additionally, job offers are conditional upon satisfactory background check results, and the new policy bans Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders from being employed at the university. The policy builds on the university’s previous policy, implemented in 2013, which required new full-time employees to undergo criminal and sex offender background checks.
The new policy also applies to current employees who work or participate in programs that include minors. And according to the school’s release, the university “reserves the right to discipline or terminate any current employee or refuse to rehire any former employee … who is found to have abused a minor, or to have been convicted of a crime against a minor or another crime that is determined to pose an unreasonable risk.”
The Gazette article goes on to report that the move was triggered by information that a Level 2 sex offender has taught at the school since 2006. The state’s Sex Offender Registry Board’s describes a Level 2 offender “as someone at a moderate risk to re-offend.”
It’s obvious that Bridgewater administration and officials re-examined their previous policy and felt it needed to be strengthened, whether in light of the employee revelation or otherwise. The new policy appears to do that, as it applies to more employees and addresses current ones. The administration may also want to consider the option of rechecking current employees at regular intervals in the future, in order to reduce the chance of discovering that someone else with an unsavory past is working there.