School districts across Florida are grappling with the newly passed Jessica Lunsford Act – part of which requires screening for workers who come onto school grounds. The law took effect September 1st – as a response to the rape and murder of 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford in Homosassa, Florida. It requires workers who might come into contact with students – including construction workers, delivery people and sports officials – to undergo background checks. Districts are expected to pay the roughly 80-dollar cost for each screening.
Lee County Schools Superintendent – Dr. James Browder – says there are unintended consequences… like making it harder to attract building contractors.
“This is another example of something that’ll drive the cost of construction up. If you have several sub-contractors, you have to get everybody on those teams that go into a school to, for instance reconstruct a portion of the building, all those folks have to have a level 2 screening, which means that they’re fingerprinted, and that goes through the FBI database.”
Browder says he’s already heard that some contractors would sooner STOP doing business with the district, than get all their workers screened. There’s also concern over ambiguities in the law – including who exactly gets screened, and whether people who work in multiple districts require multiple screenings. The Florida Legislature is expected to take up the issue during a special session in the coming months.
Wednesday, 28 September 2005 01:00