SPS Responds to Questions on Wood's Background Check

By KOLR10 News

Published 02/19 2014 12:53PM

Updated 02/19 2014 02:12PM

Craig Michael Wood
Craig Michael Wood/courtesy: Greene County Sheriff's Dept.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – After Craig Michael Wood, a paraprofessional and athletic coach at Pleasant View K-8 School, was taken into custody in connection with the abduction and murder of 10-year-old Hailey Owens, question surfaced as to how Springfield Public Schools performs background checks.

Wood, arrested on pending charges of first-degree murder, has been employed with SPS since Aug. 18, 1998, according to a statement from the district.

In 1990, Wood pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance and was given a suspended imposition of sentence after completing court-ordered drug counseling programs.

The school district has not answered questions as to how Woods could have been employed at SPS for so long, in light of the drug conviction.

The district did release the following statement in regards to those questions:

New employees hired with SPS are issued a conditional offer of employment which identifies the successful completion of a background check as one of its contingencies.

The background check process is mandated by state law and includes a check of open and closed records at the local (municipal), state, and national levels and coordinates information from multiple agencies including local authorities and the FBI.

In addition to what is required by state law, SPS adds an additional check of the Family Care Safety Registry which pulls information from more than a dozen local, state, and national agencies and reports information which may deem the potential employee to be unsuitable for work with children (e.g., a substantiated allegation of child abuse or neglect, etc...).

Hiring managers receive automated notifications from the HR Department when applicants have cleared their background and they may be around students.

No newly hired employee is allowed to be around students until they have cleared all portions of the background check process.

"Our background checks focus on any criminal history," says Teresa Bledsoe, director of communications at SPS, in an email. "We evaluate the backgrounds of each potential employee based on the nature of the work that they will be doing. Any charge which indicates the individual would be violent or act inappropriately is evaluated very carefully."

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