College background check policy examined


The College of William and Mary Board of Visitors’ Committee on Audit and Compliance met early Thursday morning to review the Auditor of Public Account’s Report and receive a briefing on campus compliances.

Auditor of Public Accounts Laurie Hicks gave a report to the committee, detailing only one discrepancy in the College’s intercollegiate athletics program.

Within the athletics program, there was a question about the timeliness of the deposits of ticket revenue with the Bursar’s Office.

“They’ve gotten their procedures in place to fix that,” Hicks said. “We’ll be following up on that when we start the next one.”

During the review, the auditor also found some problems with Blackboard access.

“We’ve found that both at William and Mary and Richard Bland,” Hicks said. “Normally we do a brief overview of users. This year, we had someone in-house who had received some training with Blackboard. He was able to see some folks that needed to have their access tweaked a bit.”

The College of William and Mary was given an unqualified opinion by the Auditor of Public Accounts, one of the highest ratings.

University Compliance and Policy Officer Kiersten Boyce also delivered a report to the Committee.

Over the summer, Boyce worked with the athletics department to implement policies and procedures regarding the protection of minors. After former FBI director and federal judge Louis Freeh produced a report detailing the investigation into Sandusky’s role at Penn State, many colleges have turned to the Freeh Report to look into ways to change their own policies.

Boyce also noted that while the addition of background checks for faculty and staff was first implemented last fall, the new policy is under review this year.

“We’re going to expand that list [of people who need background checks] to include positions with extensive interaction with minors,” Boyce said.

Chair of the Committee John Thomas questioned the methodology of background checks at the College.

“Not that the Freeh Report is the Bible or anything, but one of the recommendations is background checks periodically,” Thomas said. “And another one is that everybody gets the same background check. I don’t know if that’s an expense or whether there’s pushback on everybody getting a background check. Every five years for everybody, everybody gets the same check. What does that mean in our policy?”

According to Boyce, the College has a code provision that limits using fingerprinting background checks to faculty and staff in sensitive positions. The College uses a program called All Clear for all other background checks, a service that Chief of Police Don Challis finds just as effective as the fingerprints.

Boyce also noted that a revision to the policy on campus violence, which includes a revision to the policy’s wording and a mandatory reporting element, has now been submitted to the campus for a campus-comment period.

“The policy is a key mechanism for ensuring that violent behavior is identified and ideally prevented,” Boyce said. “The policy requires the reporting of acts of violence and threats. The idea is to bring these matters to the attention of the campus assessment and intervention team.”

The meeting closed with discussion of a new hotline service through a third-party company, NavexGlobal. Boyce said the contract is under review.

“A number of other Virginia publics have it. It’s very common,” Boyce said. “The idea is simply to have a 1-800 number that is not owned by the university that you can call anonymously if you don’t feel comfortable to report unethical activity.”