• Employer Background Investigations Related to Employee’s Serving Special Populations
  • September 9, 2011 | Authors: Kristin L. Bauer; Anastasia Villescas
  • Law Firm: Jackson Lewis LLP - Dallas Office
  • The 82nd regular session of the Texas legislature passed several bills related to the hiring and firing of individuals serving special populations.

    House Bill 1610 amends Section 21.006 of the Education Code to expand protections of minors and add to the areas of permissible investigations and terminations of teachers.  First, this amendment requires full investigations into educator misconduct with minors even if the educator resigns prior to completion of the investigation.  Teachers convicted of felonies or who have received deferred adjudication for felony offenses may be terminated as soon as practicable; before this amendment, the Education Code provided for such termination only upon the revocation of a teacher’s certification.  The amendment also expands the list of acts comprising offenses under Section 21.12 of the Penal Code to include, among other acts, sexual contact with any student enrolled in the same school district as the offending individual, not merely the same school.  The full text of HB 1610 is available at:

    House Bill 2678 amends Section 1001 of the Education Code to require national criminal history checks of all drivers’ education instructors by September 1, 2013.  A driver education school must then terminate or deny employment to any instructor who has been convicted of any felony under Title 5 of the Texas Penal Code (assaults against the person) or any offense for which a person would be required to register as a sex offender, if either offense was committed against an individual who is was either under 18 years old or enrolled in a public school.  This provision does not apply, however, if the offense under Title 5 of the Texas Penal Code was committed more than 30 years ago. The full text of HB 2678 is available at:  http://www.legis.state.tx.us/tlodocs/82R/billtext/pdf/HB02678F.pdf#navpanes=0.

    House Bill 2609 amends Section 250.006(a) of the Health and Safety Code to expand the list of convictions barring employment at facilities serving the elderly or persons with disabilities.  Now, a conviction for harming, threatening to harm, or obstructing the service of someone serving as a witness or informant to a crime is an additional bar to employment. The full text of HB 2609 is available at: http://www.legis.state.tx.us/tlodocs/82R/billtext/pdf/HB02609F.pdf#navpanes=0.

    Finally, Senate Bill 223 amends Section 250.001 of the Health and Safety Code, which prohibits home and community support service agencies from employing applicants with convictions of certain crimes (including, for example, homicide, assault, endangering a child, and Medicaid fraud).  The amendment also provides that these agencies must immediately discharge any current employee whose criminal background checks reveal any of these convictions or some other conviction that is a contraindication to employment. The full text of SB 223 is available at: http://www.legis.state.tx.us/tlodocs/82R/billtext/pdf/SB00223F.pdf#navpanes=0.