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The Macon Telegraph recently ran a story with this provocative headline: “Problem principals: Bibb school leaders had problems at previous jobs.” Here’s the lead.
In the past 18 months, four Bibb County principals were investigated for allegations ranging from choking a student and mismanaging federal money to testing blunders and having an affair with a subordinate.
Three of the principals had repeated problems in previous jobs, and the other one was the subject of several complaints before he was placed on paid leave and then resigned, school records show.
Those “problems in previous jobs” are the things that background checks are supposed to catch. They did. Once you catch something, you need to take some action.
A criminal background check does you no good if you don’t use what you find. Usually, that means you use it as a starting point for investigation.
Investigation is the key. After investigating one of the principals who had “issues” in a previous job, Bibb County hired him anyway. Here’s how Sylvia McGee, Bibb County’s deputy superintendent put it: “We want strong principals who are going to be what we consider to be change agents.”
The principal in question had improved the test scores at the school where he was. This particular hire turned out to be controversial. But McGee is sure that the district gets it right most of the time.
Even if they do, this story raises a bigger question for Bibb County and for you. What are your overall hiring criteria? What is it you’re looking for? What are you willing to sacrifice or overlook to get it?
The way you use your background checks and pre-employment credit checks should help you meet your goals. They can help you ask the questions that help you make an informed and conscious hiring decision.
But the information you get on those checks won’t make the decision for you. And they can’t guarantee that every decision will turn out the way you want.