Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn
In a story that shows “how” background checks are performed is just as important as “if” they are performed, an inmate who shot and killed two bailiffs and wounded two others during an escape attempt at the Berrien County Courthouse in St. Joseph, Michigan on July 11, 2016, was also a volunteer at a nearby elementary school where he passed two background checks that did not uncover his long criminal record, the WZZM Channel 13 Watchdog Team reports.
The WZZM Channel 13 Watchdog Team confirmed the shooter – Larry Gordon, who was shot and killed in the incident – was a classroom volunteer at a school in Watervliet that his daughter attended for over a year despite “a criminal history dating back to the 90’s, including two federal convictions for possession of a pipe bomb and a felony larceny conviction in 2013.” WZZM also reports that in April 2016 “police found a 17 year-old girl in a shed who they say Gordon held captive, and raped.”
WZZM Channel 13 reports that Kevin Schooley, Superintendent of the Watervliet Public Schools, told WZZM the school “did a background check for Gordon once in fall of 2014 and then again in September of 2015” but did not check his record for federal crimes because volunteers do not get fingerprinted like employees. When asked by WZZM why federal court records were not examined, Schooley replied: “That’s what we’re looking to bulk up.”
Schooley told WZZM that “we’re really vetting our volunteers a lot harder” which will include “the possibility of more frequent background checks” to be implemented in the fall and “involve a conversation with the school board and the whole community.” The full story from WZZM Channel 13 is available at http://www.wzzm13.com/news/local/courthouse-shooter-was-school-volunteer-prompts-changes-for-background-checks/278165343.
Free ESR Whitepaper on Volunteer Background Checks
Since criminals can exploit volunteer opportunities in non-profit organizations to gain access to potential victims, Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) founder and CEO Attorney Lester S. Rosen has written the complimentary whitepaper “Screening Volunteers for Non-Profits” to show why performing background checks helps protect children, the elderly, and the vulnerable. To download a free copy, please visit www.esrcheck.com/Whitepapers/Screening-Volunteers-for-Non-Profits/.
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