Tampa Schools Take Safety Seriously

By: Patricia Hawke

Everyone in any school system has a desire to keep kids safe. Parents, teachers, administrators, and school board members and employees work together to ensure the safety of students. Parents and schools alike rely on each other to educate their students on safety rules as appropriate to the age of the children. Tampa Schools are highly conscious of the need to keep their students safe, and have plans in place which do so. Two such plans in Tampa Schools are the Life Threatening Allergy (LTA) Responsibility Commitment, and the Jessica Lunsford Act.

The Life Threatening Allergy Commitment is in place to save children’s lives. Millions of children throughout the country suffer from life threatening allergies, and Tampa Schools are ready to deal with any situation that may arise. All members of the district of Tampa Schools have responsibilities to keep kids safe, including, but not limited to the students themselves, parents, and all Student Nutrition Services employees. The details of this plan may be reviewed at the Tampa Schools website.

Effective September 1, 2005, changes in legislation under the Jessica Lunsford Act (a law enacted after the abduction and murder of Jessica Lunsford) now require all Tampa Schools contractors, subcontractors, and their employees to undergo a Level II background screening. This screening consists of an FDLE/FBI search. If a Tampa Schools contractor or their employees or subcontractors and their employees will be at any of Tampa Schools when students are present, have direct contact with students, or have access to or control of school funds, they will be required, as mandated by Florida State Law to undergo this screening.

If the contractor or subcontractors have no personnel who meet any of the three criteria, the law does not apply and no action is necessary. The fingerprints must be kept current and are required to be updated every five years. Any break in service to Tampa Schools will require individuals to be re-screened at their cost. Outside agencies’ reports will not be accepted. Prior to being fingerprinted, each individual will be required to disclose any previous criminal history on the Criminal Record Information form. This document must be received and cleared by the Tampa Schools’ Office of Professional Standards before being fingerprinted. All individuals will be required to meet the background qualification guidelines for contractors before being considered eligible for Tampa Schools site access.

After eligibility is assessed, notification of such will be sent to the contractor, along with the clearance for his or her employee(s) to report to Fingerprinting. The potential Tampa Schools contractor will receive a document that indicates the employee has been fingerprinted and is now considered an approved contractor/employee once the district receives the fingerprint return from FDLE/FBI. This usually takes 24 to 48 hours. Additionally, contractors will be mailed ID badges for their employees that must be worn at all times while present at any Tampa Schools campus. It is obvious that the district of Tampa Schools is highly aware of the necessity of keeping its students safe.

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