Many schools are developing and reviewing their employee background check policies to ensure the safety of others on campus. Something to examine is who needs to undergo a background check. While the policies at many schools make it mandatory for those who work with minors (including student employees) to have a background check, there are other positions on campus that should require a background check. Virginia Wesleyan College discovered this the hard way.


A recent article in the Virginian-Pilot tells about a case in which a student work-study employee with a criminal past that included embezzlement was able to access a school database with records of more than 380,000 students and alumni. About 59,000 of these contained sensitive personal information, including Social Security numbers, birth dates and addresses.


The school did not know of her criminal past because it does not do background checks on student employees, including work-study employees. Court documents indicate that the former student applied for 104 credit cards, and made cash withdrawals and purchases totaling more than $11,000 using four fraudulently obtained cards.


This is a good reminder that using background checks as part of the hiring process can protect an organization. When it’s time for a school to review its background screening policies, it’s a good idea to examine who has access to sensitive information and see if that position requires the employee to undergo a background check. If it is not, perhaps it should be.