Background Check Policy

I. Purpose

Agnes Scott College strives to provide the safest possible environment for students, visitors, faculty, and staff. It is essential that the college's academic mission is supported by highly qualified employees who will foster a safe and secure environment on campus.

The purpose of this policy is to describe the terms and conditions under which background checks of applicants for employment with Agnes Scott College or those working with students on campus under agreements with partner organizations are conducted.

II. Type of Background Checks Conducted

A. Standard Pre-Employment Screening

1. Employment Application/Interview

All candidates selected for campus interviews shall complete an employment application that requires an applicant to disclose truthful information about certain criminal convictions and to certify the accuracy of information provided on the application. Falsification of information on an employment application or in the hiring process will normally result in denial or forfeiture of college employment.

The college will inquire during the application process about certain criminal convictions, but not arrests. Hiring supervisors should review the conviction statements on the employment application and may inquire about any reported convictions during the interview; however, candidates may not be asked to reveal information about any convictions that have been expunged or sealed by a court. Any information about reported convictions, as well as any information about falsification of information, should be communicated to the Office of Human Resources for further investigation and appropriate action, in consultation with legal counsel. Convictions disclosed on the application or during the employment process do not automatically disqualify an applicant but will be considered in the selection decision if they are determined to be related to the job.

2. Reference check

The hiring manager or the Office of Human Resources or a designee shall check references and verify the employment history and past performance of a finalist before a final offer of employment is extended.

3. Background check

All applicants are subject to the following pre-employment background checks: County criminal search (all counties within seven (7) years), Nationwide Criminal Database and Sex Offender Search, Residency History and Social Security alert. These searches are conducted by an outside credit reporting agency in accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

B. Position-Specific Criminal and Credit Background Checks

The following classes of applicants are subject to additional pre-employment Background checks.

Faculty (full-time and part-time) - Standard package along with Nationwide Federal Criminal Search, education (verification of highest degree earned, by submitting to the college an official transcript from the institution from which the degree was obtained). Note: Faculty who are employed by an affiliated organization but are teaching on Agnes Scott College's campus are also subject to this policy. This includes visiting faculty, post-doctoral fellows, graduate student interns, scholars or artists-in-residence who will be on campus for a period of three weeks or more.

Department directors and above - Standard package along with Nationwide Federal Criminal Search (verification of highest degree earned, by submitting to the college an official transcript from the institution from which the degree was obtained).

Athletic coaches (including part-time assistant coaches who travel with a team) -Standard package along with Nationwide Federal Criminal Search, an education check (verification of highest degree earned, by submitting to the college an official transcript from the institution from which the degree was obtained) and a driver record check. Volunteer coaches will be subject to the same background check process as regular coaches.

Employees who reside in or have access to student residential housing - Standard package along with an education check (verification of highest degree earned, by submitting to the college an official transcript from the institution from which the degree was obtained) and a fingerprint criminal background check. Spouses or domestic partners of employees who reside in residence halls will be subject to criminal background checks conducted by Agnes Scott Office of Public Safety, rather than an outside consumer credit agency. These checks may include a fingerprint check and on-line criminal and sexual offender searches.

Employees who have access to sensitive financial or technical information (including accounting office staff, payroll and human resources staff, administrative computing staff) - Standard package along with Nationwide Federal Criminal Search, credit history and education (verification of highest degree earned).

Union and security employees who have access to residence halls - Standard package along with Nationwide Federal Criminal Search. In addition, employees whose job descriptions require them to have a valid driver's license will also be subject to a driver record check.

Employees that require state licensure to perform their job duties (including health center personnel, legal counsel) - Professional license check

Employees whose job descriptions require a valid driver's license (including admissions counselors/representatives) -Driver record check.

C. Additional Background Checks

The college reserves the right to conduct investigations when an employee is charged with or convicted of any crime that reflects on his/her suitability for continued employment, during the course of an administrative investigation, or when the employee is transferred or hired into a new position that requires a criminal background check. The college also reserves the right to require background checks of additional categories of applicants, at its discretion. The college will generally not conduct background checks on student employees unless that individual's primary purpose at Agnes Scott is to work as a regular employee.

III. Procedure

All offers of employment will be contingent on satisfactory results of the background search. The college will ensure that all background checks are conducted in compliance with applicable federal and state statutes, including the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

A. Information Collection

A signed authorization from the finalist and an Application for Employment is required before criminal record information or background information may be requested from the outside credit reporting agency.

B. Results of Background Checks

1. Results of background checks are sent directly to the Office of Human Resources.

2. Information showing a criminal conviction does not automatically exclude an applicant or employee from working at the college. Criminal conduct will disqualify an applicant when job related and consistent with business necessity.

3. If the background check is favorable, human resources will notify the hiring supervisor that the candidate is approved to begin employment.

4. If the background check is unfavorable, human resources will review the information in consultation with legal counsel. Other individuals that may be consulted, at the discretion of human resources, include the hiring supervisor, the appropriate vice president, the Office of Academic Affairs (for faculty hires), the Office of Public Safety and the Office of the President. A decision to hire an applicant with a job-related conviction requires the approval of the appropriate Vice President or President. In the event of an unfavorable background check, the potential employee will be notified of the unfavorable result and given an opportunity to explain.

5. When a background check reveals that an applicant has a criminal conviction, the following procedure will be followed. First, notice of the information will be provided to the applicant by the Office of Human Resources. Second, the applicant will be given an opportunity to provide a written response and explanation. Third, the Office of Human Resources will consider the applicant's response and, as appropriate, discuss it with the Office of Public Safety and/or persons in what would be the applicant's supervisory chain of command. Fourth, the Office of Human Resources will document how information regarding a criminal conviction impacted the hiring decision.

6. If the unfavorable information is included in the report provided by the credit reporting agency, human resources must send the applicant a Pre-Adverse action letter. If the decision is made not to hire the applicant because of information included in a report, a Final Adverse Action letter shall be sent to the applicant informing the applicant of his/her rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. If unfavorable information is uncovered about the spouses or domestic partners of employees subject to background checks under this policy, the results of such search will be provided to the applicant and the spouse/partner, as long as the applicant has given written permission to do so.

7. In making the determination of job-relatedness, the Office of Human Resources will consider (a) the nature and job duties of the position sought; (b) how recently the unfavorable incident occurred; (c) the nature and gravity of the criminal conduct involved; (d) the frequency of the conduct or the number of offenses; (e) the age of the individual at the time of the incident;(f) the accuracy of information provided on the application and during the interview process; (g) evidence of rehabilitation; and (h) the safety and security of the campus, college assets and the members of the campus community. These factors will also be considered when determining whether a spouse/partner will be permitted to reside in a student residential housing.

IV. Duty to Report Convictions

Every employee must inform his/her supervisor within five business days if he/she is convicted of a crime (not including minor traffic infractions). Reporting of convictions is applicable to all employees, whether or not their positions are subject to an original background check. The college may conduct a background check of an existing employee who reports a conviction pursuant to the procedures above.

V. Confidentiality

Only the Office of Human Resources may initiate a background check and receive results. Results of all background checks will be kept confidential and will not be disclosed to any person except to the extent necessary to administer and enforce this policy, or as required by law or appropriate legal process. Criminal background investigation records will be destroyed in accordance with the GCIC secure record destruction guidelines. Violation of the confidentiality requirement is grounds for discipline, up to and including termination of employment.


Policy No.  280  Issued  1/1/2013  Revised  9/1/2013