New legislation adds important security tool for schools

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Public schools throughout Washington state now have a needed security tool to make them a bit safer when classes resume because of legislation authored by Walla Walla’s Rep. Skyler Rude.

Gov. Jay Inslee last week signed Rude’s legislation, House Bill 2259, into law. The new law essentially expands background check requirements for public schools.

Rude, a Republican, wisely sought to tweak current law to add the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to the list of agencies that must require a record check before hiring for certain jobs in education.

The law requires a pre-employment record check for jobs in which the employee receives criminal history record information or personal information from the record checks of other employees.

“It’s vital to ensure that our kids are protected and safe. Safeguarding students’ sensitive information is important,” Rude said in a statement via email. “My bill is a technical fix to current law to align with federal standards. To have access to the FBI background system, the (Office of the Superintendent of Public Education) needs authority from the state. This gives them the authority they need.”

This seems a simple fix that could well prevent big problems down the road. Concerns about personal information being spread or used in nefarious ways continue to grow in this country.

Our schools must be secure. Making sure those who deal with such sensitive information are cleared to have it makes good sense.

The legislation received unanimous bipartisan support to become law. That’s an indication that lawmakers likely hadn’t previously considered the need to give the state’s school chief authority in this matter.

Rude made a good call in fixing this flaw. It provides another layer of security in our public schools.