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Chatham County Schools keep a file on you

By Joe Gerstner
Posted Thursday, September 22, 2011

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Pittsboro, NC - Hopefully the subject line caught your attention as I didn’t quite know how to title this post. Chatham County Schools now requires a criminal background check for field trip chaperones. I completely understand the need for these checks. I am not questioning the need to perform these checks. I am questioning the process by which the checks are conducted.

The background check form asks for:
Full Name
Date of Birth
Complete Social Security Number
Driver license number
Addresses for the last 10 years.

This information is virtually all that is needed for identity theft. I asked the school office if there was a different way to supply the information and if I could have the form back once the background check was completed.

I was told I had to submit the form. I was told that I could not have the form back. In fact, I was told the form was placed into my file within the Chatham County Schools.

Why do I have a file within the Chatham County School system?
How is access to this file controlled?
When is it discarded?
How is it discarded?

I wrote to the Superintendent and the School Board to express my concern about the retention of my information. Included below is my email and the response that I received from the Superintendent.

If you also find it disturbing that the school district will not return the form and keeps this type of information on file please send the Superintendent an email. If you know of a more efficient, less invasive way to have background checks performed, please contact the Superintendent.

From: Joe Gerstner
Sent: Friday, September 02, 2011 1:48 PM
To: Robert Logan
Cc: David Hamm;; Deb McManess; Flint O’Brien; Del Turner
Subject: Criminal Background Check for Chaperones

Mr. Logan

I am contacting you in regards to the Criminal Background check that is required for field-trip chaperones. While I completely support the need for these checks, I am concerned by the level of personal information that is required on the background check form and how this form is handled within the Chatham County Schools. The information contained on the form is virtually all that is needed for identity theft.

I spoke with Ms. XXXXX in Human Resources and she informed me that a written copy is required and that the information cannot be supplied verbally. She also informed me that the form will not be returned once
the check has been completed and is placed into my file within the Chatham County Schools system. I find this especially disturbing. Why do I, as a parent, have a file within the school system?

I am sure you can appreciate the liability that Chatham County Schools would have if this information was mishandled. I realize you have more pressing issues to deal with but I thought it important to bring this topic to your attention.


Joseph A Gerstner

From: Robert Logan
Date: Mon, Sep 5, 2011 at 7:43 PM
Subject: RE: Criminal Background Check for Chaperones
To: Joe Gerstner
Cc: David Hamm, Deb McManess, Flint O’Brien Del Turner, Tina Hester

Dr. Gerstner:

Thank you for sharing your concern. Yes, we are fully aware of what we are asking for and our level of responsibility in insuring the protection and maintenance of confidentiality of this information. I am sure that you will agree that we live in an unstable societal climate. The safety of the children is the most important service we provide. The criminal background check for all field-trip chaperones is a necessary precaution. We accept this responsibility and take great measures to safeguard this information. Your concern is understood and appreciated. You are the first person I have ever had to express this concern. If this is especially sensitive to you, we understand if you choose not to serve as a chaperone due to the criminal background check. I feel far safer in conducting the background checks than I am concerned about the mishandling of information. The process will have to remain in place, but thank you for your concern.


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Chatham County Schools keep a file on you

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