Kansas Department of Education wants fingerprints of about 40,000 teachers

? The Kansas State Department of Education wants to add security measures for its schools, including fingerprinting about 40,000 educators who were licensed before 2003.

Pam Coleman, director of teacher education and licensure for the department, told members of the Kansas State Board of Education on Wednesday that the 40,000 teachers and administrators received their state department licenses before 2003, when fingerprints and background checks became required for a new license.

“We do have to get everyone fingerprinted who is not,” Coleman said. “I think we can do that in a practical way.”

She also said more regular Kansas Bureau of Investigation background checks and enrollment in the bureau’s Rap Back program are needed, according to The Topeka Capital-Journal. Coleman and KSDE attorneys said they want background checks conducted every five years when a teacher applies for license renewal.

Coleman and KSDE legal staff said the stricter regulations are designed to have offenses that could lead to the revocation of a teaching license reported sooner to KSDE.

Representatives for the state’s teacher union, however, said changes to the current regulations aren’t needed if superintendents and county district attorneys would report arrests sooner and more consistently to the education department as required by law.

“We want immediate reporting,” said Peg Dunlap, director of instructional advocacy at the Kansas National Education Association. “We believe that such timely and contemporaneous notification is vastly preferable to a fingerprint-background check every five years.”

Board chairman Dave Dennis, of Wichita, said he supports the proposed requirements.

“I served my country for 29 years, and I had to get fingerprinted to do that,” he said. “I don’t see a problem with someone getting fingerprinted. If you haven’t done anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about.”

Board members are expected to take up the proposed changes in June when Coleman said she will provide more details on how KSDE proposes to enforce the suggested changes.