Sex Offender Laws Takes Effect January 1

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In response to the new laws, the rush is on in school districts across the state to conduct a brand new background check on every person with a paycheck.

It's part of a package of bills that take effect in this new year.

The school employee proposal becomes law in 2006, but districts don't have to comply until 2008. That means many are still deciding how to implement the law.

It requires them to pay for a professional background check on every employee, no matter how long their tenure. Each costs about $54 dollars.

"The law makes sense--we're here to protect children, that's what schools are all about," explains Stanley Kogut, superitendent of the Ingham Intermediate School District. While he backs the idea, he too is scrambling in this new year to fund it.

Most districts in the area did some sort of background check before, but this new check is what they call a "hard check." The cost comes from fingerprinting that means schools can compare checks against local and national databases.

Some districts are considering asking teachers to pay out of pocket.
Kogut says they'll likely absorb it themselves. He only hopes it won't effect the classroom.

He says the next challenge will be dealing with what they find in those checks.

"What if you find an employee had a conviction 15 to 20 years ago and has been a good employeeever since?," he asks.

The law specifically forbids sex offenders from working at or near schools, it doesn't say what to do about anyone else.