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SB 34 requiring more frequent background checks for Indiana teachers dies in Statehouse

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– A bill that would have required more frequent background checks for Indiana teachers died at the Statehouse on Monday.

If Senate Bill 34 had passed, teachers would have been required to undergo background checks every five years. Currently, schools are only required to perform a background check when a teacher is hired.

The bill was in the House Education Committee when it died. It didn’t receive a hearing by the committee prior to a deadline Monday, essentially killing the bill. Lawmakers had previously raised concerns about where the funding would come for the additional background checks.

“We’re all very, very concerned about how someone who can survive a background check and being hired into the school, have a clean record and then all of a sudden, something happens inside a school that you cannot predict,” State Senator Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) said last year as lawmakers worked to craft the bill.

According to a spokesperson from Merritt’s office, “The language from SB 34 was amended into House Bill 1079. It passed out of the Senate 50-0 and is going back to the House for concurrence or dissent.” But HB 1079 also permits the Department of Education to reinstate licenses to those who have had convictions reversed, vacated or set aside on appeal.