Updated 01/07/2010 05:58 AM
When working with kids, how deep should employee background checks probe?
Employers use background checks to make decisions when hiring. But how thorough should a background check be when hiring an individual to work with kids? Our Sarah Hagen visited one North Country school that's speaking out.
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SARANAC LAKE, N.Y. -- Saranac Lake Youth Center Director Michael Scaringe Jr. has been charged with raping a 13-year-old girl.
While the Director of the Saranac Lake Youth Center, Michael Scaringe Jr. had also applied to be a substitute teacher at the Saranac Lake Central School District.
Saranac Lake Central School District Superintendent Gerry Goldman said, "It is prudent to take a closer look at those folks in terms of their employment history and their background and try to find out as much as you can about them."
The usual background check was run and came back clean. Scaringe was cleared to be hired, but then the Superintendent followed up with another background check of his own.
Goldman said, "It's pretty critical that we put adults in front of them that are going to behave ethically."
New York State Police say the suspect was acquitted of a sexual offense in the mid 1990s in Florida. They also say, depending on what type of background check was done, a potential employer could see that information. For the Superintendent at the Saranac Lake Center School District, all it took was a Google search.
"You can ask questions about people. You can get on the computer. You don't need to be a detective to find out information these days," said Goldman.
Michael Scaringe Jr. was not hired for the substitute teaching job and the school notified the Saranac Lake Youth Center of its findings.
"They were aware. They were aware of the things I was aware of," said Goldman.
But Scaringe's defense attorney, Brian Barrett, said, "The past allegations were a sham. And no one should be branded by allegations that didn't pan out."
The SLYC Board President Doug Zobel declined several interview opportunities. He said, "The Board has decided not to do any interviews but wishes to express that their thoughts are first with the family and also the future of the youth center, which will be closed for the time being."
Michael Scaringe Jr. entered a not guilty plea in the current rape case and awaits a grand jury hearing to be scheduled.