I feel pretty confident in saying Waxahachie ISD has never had a sex offender as an employee. I know for a fact there havenít been any in the last few years because the school district does a criminal background check on every one of its employees.
Unfortunately, the same canít be said about the Texas Association of Sports Officials - you know, the organization that sends referees to every UIL and TAPPS athletic event in the state.
Because there are 17,000 members of TASO, the organization canít do criminal background checks because, as executive director Steven Ellinger said, ďit is too cost prohibitive.Ē
Thatís amazing. I wonder how ďcost prohibitiveĒ itís going to be when a student is sexually assaulted by or is able to get drugs from a referee.
I realize those are worst-case scenarios but they are scenarios that, without criminal background checks, are realistic.
TASOís application does have a place for applicants to sign, certifying they havenít been convicted of a felony.
For those that admit to not being able to sign the waiver, a criminal background check is done. For those that lie - and Iím assuming most felons would - there is no check.
All a convicted sex offender has to do is sign that statement and there is nothing between them and referring a high school football or volleyball game.
In an organization with 17,000 members, I find it hard to believe that every single one signed that statement in good faith. If, out of 17,000, there are two, then that is too many.
The scariest part of the scenario is the fact that the school districts are the ones paying the referees to come officiate.
Maybe Mr. Ellinger is not worried about the criminal background checks because the schools are the ones that are technically renting the officials.
When a lawsuit does appear because of TASOís carelessness, the group paying the biggest part of the bill will be the school district - it is the one paying the referee to be on its campus and in close contact with its students.
To be a volunteer on any campus of Waxahachie ISD, you must first submit to a criminal background check.
Parents of band students have to be checked just to be able to help walk equipment down the track for the halftime show each week.
Waxahachie and most other school districts around the state do their part in making sure their students are safe from any potential danger. It seems to me that TASO should be doing it as well.
The cost for Waxahachie ISD to do a criminal background check on someone through the Department of Public Safety is exactly, hold your breathe tax payers Ö $1.
For an organization with 17,000 members, Iím sure someone out there is willing to cut a deal for criminal background checks. If not, whatís an extra $10-20 a year just to be safe.
Tommy Brown is the sports editor for the Daily Light. For questions or comments email Tommy at email@example.com.