University Faculty Background Checks to be Reviewed By Court

Pennsylvania’s highest court will decide whether the system of state-owned universities trampled on faculty union rights by unilaterally requiring criminal background checks and reports of arrests for serious crimes within 72 hours.

The policy, enacted in response to the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal at Penn State, was limited in an April decision by Commonwealth Court so that many professors would not be covered by it. The Supreme Court said it will review that decision and consider the schools’ argument that the policy “served the public interest in protecting minors.”

The universities have argued it was within their managerial powers to make all employees follow the policy, not just those who are likely to encounter children on campus. The unions say any such policy should be hammered out as part of contract negotiations.

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