The State Board of Education wants a law to require criminal background checks for substitute teachers.
The 17-member board voted unanimously earlier this week to require the checks for short- and long-term substitute teachers in every S.C. school district. Currently, only full-time certified teachers much be screened.
"Substitute teachers are where the rub is," said Tim Moore, chairman of the state board. "There's no rules on them. A district could hire someone suspected of armed robbery or even convicted of armed robbery to be a substitute."
Legislators will have to change state law to make the screenings mandatory.
A State Department of Education official said he expects a change will have little impact. A majority of school districts - possibly all of them - already conduct background checks of substitutes, according to Mark Bounds, state assistant superintendent.
"We just want to make sure that in, these difficult budgeting times, districts are still doing those checks," he said.
In most cases, districts pay the State Law Enforcement Division $8 for each background check conducted.
"We feel it's necessary to provide the safest possible environment for students," said Tammie Newman, spokeswoman for the Aiken school district. "Substitutes have constant interaction with students."