2013 New Mexico Statutes
Chapter 22 - Public Schools
Article 10A - School Personnel Act
Section 22-10A-5 - Background checks; known convictions; alleged ethical misconduct; reporting required; limited immunity; penalty for failure to report. (2007)


NM Stat § 22-10A-5 (2013) What's This?

22-10A-5. Background checks; known convictions; alleged ethical misconduct; reporting required; limited immunity; penalty for failure to report. (2007) 
A.   As used in this section, "ethical misconduct" means unacceptable behavior or conduct engaged in by a licensed school employee and includes inappropriate touching, sexual harassment, discrimination and behavior intended to induce a child into engaging in illegal, immoral or other prohibited behavior.
B.   An applicant for initial licensure shall be fingerprinted and shall provide two fingerprint cards or the equivalent electronic fingerprints to the department to obtain the applicant's federal bureau of investigation record.  Convictions of felonies or misdemeanors contained in the federal bureau of investigation record shall be used in accordance with the Criminal Offender Employment Act [28-2-1 through 28-2-6 NMSA 1978].  Other information contained in the federal bureau of investigation record, if supported by independent evidence, may form the basis for the denial, suspension or revocation of a license for good and just cause.  Records and related information shall be privileged and shall not be disclosed to a person not directly involved in the licensure or employment decisions affecting the specific applicant.  The applicant for initial licensure shall pay for the cost of obtaining the federal bureau of investigation record.
C.   Local school boards and regional education cooperatives shall develop policies and procedures to require background checks on an applicant who has been offered employment, a contractor or a contractor's employee with unsupervised access to students at a public school.
D.   An applicant for employment who has been initially licensed within twenty-four months of applying for employment with a local school board, regional education cooperative or a charter school shall not be required to submit to another background check if the department has copies of the applicant's federal bureau of investigation records on file.  An applicant who has been offered employment, a contractor or a contractor's employee with unsupervised access to students at a public school shall provide two fingerprint cards or the equivalent electronic fingerprints to the local school board, regional education cooperative or charter school to obtain the applicant's federal bureau of investigation record.  The applicant, contractor or contractor's employee who has been offered employment by a regional education cooperative or at a public school may be required to pay for the cost of obtaining a background check.  At the request of a local school board, regional education cooperative or charter school, the department is authorized to release copies of federal bureau of investigation records that are on file with the department and that are not more than twenty-four months old.  Convictions of felonies or misdemeanors contained in the federal bureau of investigation record shall be used in accordance with the Criminal Offender Employment Act; provided that other information contained in the federal bureau of investigation record, if supported by independent evidence, may form the basis for the employment decisions for good and just cause.  Records and related information shall be privileged and shall not be disclosed to a person not directly involved in the employment decision affecting the specific applicant who has been offered employment, contractor or contractor's employee with unsupervised access to students at a public school.
E.   A local superintendent, charter school administrator or regional education cooperative shall report to the department any known conviction of a felony or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude of a licensed school employee that results in any type of action against the licensed school employee.
F.   A local superintendent, charter school administrator or director of a regional education cooperative or their respective designees shall investigate all allegations of ethical misconduct about any licensed school employee who resigns, is being discharged or terminated or otherwise leaves employment after an allegation has been made.  If the investigation results in a finding of wrongdoing, the local superintendent, charter school administrator or director of a regional education cooperative shall report the identity of the licensed school employee and attendant circumstances of the ethical misconduct on a standardized form to the department and the licensed school employee within thirty days following the separation from employment. Copies of that form shall not be maintained in public school, school district or regional education cooperative records.  No agreement between a departing licensed school employee and the local school board, school district, charter school or regional education cooperative shall diminish or eliminate the responsibility of investigating and reporting the alleged ethical misconduct, and any such agreement to the contrary is void.  Unless the department has commenced its own investigation of the licensed school employee prior to receipt of the form, the department shall serve the licensed school employee with a notice of contemplated action involving that employee's license within ninety days of receipt of the form. If that notice of contemplated action is not served on the licensed school employee within ninety days of receipt of the form, the form, together with any documents related to the alleged ethical misconduct, shall be expunged from the licensed school employee's records with the department and shall not be subject to public inspection.
G.   The secretary may suspend, revoke or refuse to renew the license of a local superintendent, charter school administrator or regional education cooperative director who fails to report as required by Subsections E and F of this section.
H.   A person who in good faith reports as provided in Subsections E and F of this section shall not be held liable for civil damages as a result of the report.  The person being accused shall have the right to sue for any damages sustained as a result of negligent or intentional reporting of inaccurate information or the disclosure of any information to an unauthorized person.
History: Laws 1997, ch. 238, § 1; 1998, ch. 60, § 1; 1999, ch. 281, § 24; 2001, ch. 293, § 6; 1978 Comp., § 22-10-3.3, recompiled and amended as § 22-10A-5 by Laws 2003, ch. 153, § 36; 2007, ch. 263, § 1.

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