Leon County School Board Leads the Way

Before there was the Jessica Lunsford Act there was the 2004 Florida mandate requiring that every school employee be fingerprinted and screened every five years.

For current employees that means they have to do it again.

Shelia Costigan, chair of the Leon County School Board, says, “We know it's a pain, but it's worth it; it's worth the step because as you know, we have to re-fingerprint every single employee we have."

Leon County School Board leaders gave up their own prints on Monday to lead the effort, and it will be an extensive one. They say there are more than 4,000 employees that have to be re-screened during the next four years in order to comply with the law's 2009 deadline, and it's coming at an annual price tag of about $60,000 to $70,000.

Bill Montford, Leon County Schools Superintendent, says, "This is a good law and it helps ensure the safety and protection of all of our students and our employees and other guests on our campus, so when you look at the costs of that it's really not that expensive when you look at the good it's doing."

Montford adds that Leon County is already a few steps ahead of the rest of the state, since the school system already requires the screenings, but there's still a way to go to make sure everyone is checked, so district leaders are asking for a little bit of patience.

The school board is picking up the tab for current employees, but as part of the Jessica Lunsford Act, all new employees, interns, contractors and vendors must pay the fingerprinting fee on their own.