Boston, MA – In an audit released today, State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump found Bristol Community College (BCC) did not perform criminal background checks on most students participating in its Early Childhood Education and Child Care (ECE) program before they began their teaching practicums at public schools and daycare centers. The audit notes that allowing these students to work at schools and daycare facilities without first performing Criminal Offender Registry Information (CORI) checks, poses a risk to the children at the facilities. Students who participate in the college’s ECE Licensure or Career Programs are required to complete a teaching practicum to earn their certificate or license.
Bump’s audit, which examined the period of July 1, 2016 through December 31, 2018, found BCC had not conducted CORI background checks on 46 of the 64 students who completed teaching practicums during that time. These checks are required by BCC policy.
“When parents drop their kids at school, they should not have to worry that the instructors could pose a threat to their child. Institutions like Bristol Community College, which offer early educational programming, must ensure the students participating in teaching practicums receive rigorous background checks prior to stepping foot in the classroom,” Bump said of the audit. “I commend BCC for taking this matter seriously and for responding with urgency.”
The audit calls on BCC to implement a tracking system to monitor whether students in the ECE program have passed a Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) background check performed by the college before starting their teaching practicum. In its response, BCC says it is taking steps to implement this recommendation.
Past audits of the Board of Registration of Medicine and the Department of Early Education and Care found similar issues related to criminal background checks not being performed regularly.
BCC issued a statement on State Auditor Bumps findings and comments.
“We are shocked that the state auditor report would imply that we would put students’ safety at risk. Let us be clear: all Bristol Community College Early Childhood Education and Child Care program (ECE) students have a CORI background check conducted.”
“As a result of the audit, we have responded with urgency and will further strengthen our processes. In the past, our process had been that the student’s background check was performed at either Bristol or the place of their teaching practicum. Moving forward, Bristol will perform CORI background checks on all ECE students, regardless of whether they are also receiving one at the place of their teaching practicum. We are also implementing a stronger tracking system.”
“Bristol Community College takes this matter very seriously. Ensuring the safety of our community partners is of utmost importance.”
Bristol Community College is one of 15 public community colleges in Massachusetts. BCC’s Early Childhood Education and Child Care Department offers precertification teaching programs for students. Students in the program are required to complete teaching practicums for infant/toddler, preschool, or school-age children primarily in public schools in southeastern Massachusetts.