It is the policy of New England Conservatory (NEC) to perform background checks in order to protect students who participate in our programs and visit our facilities. New England Conservatory (NEC) has created this Policy for employees, volunteers and vendors to ensure the safety of the students and public, as well as to provide a safe working environment.

Under this Policy, NEC will require prospective and current employees, volunteers and vendors to consent to NEC’s obtaining and reviewing a background check.  Such checks include identity and address related searches, and various types of criminal (including sexual offender) background checks.  NEC complies with the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), similar state FCRA laws in the jurisdictions where NEC does business, federal and state equal opportunity laws and all other applicable legal authority that affects the performing of background checks.
The results of a background check are confidential and are to be shared with members of NEC on a strict “need to know” basis.

NEC will inform applicants of such requirement prior to the commencement of any employment, volunteer or vendor relationship and will advise candidates that any offer will be contingent upon the Conservatory’s receipt of a background check that it deems satisfactory. 

NEC will also require as a condition of a continuing relationship with individuals in certain employee, vendor and volunteer positions that such individuals consent to NEC’s obtaining and reviewing updated background checks every three years during the individual’s continuing relationship with NEC.

Convictions of certain crimes pose an unacceptable risk to vulnerable populations served by NEC.  This policy sets minimum standards.  This policy may be modified from time to time by NEC in its sole discretion.

The following practices or procedures will generally be followed:

1.NEC has engaged Creative Services Inc., a Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) to conduct background checks for all employees, volunteers and vendors.  All such checks will only be conducted as permitted by applicable law or as specifically authorized by the Massachusetts Department of Criminal Justice Information Systems (DCJIS).

2. An informed review of a criminal record requires adequate training. Accordingly, all personnel authorized to review background check in the decision-making process will be thoroughly familiar with the educational materials made available by DCJIS.
 
3. All employees, volunteers and vendors will be required to sign appropriate authorizations and consents prior to the performing of any background checks. Individuals seeking or already in positions for which NEC will require a background check will be required to sign an appropriate consent form and will be provided a copy of this Policy.

4. If an individual refuses to provide or revokes his/her consent for NEC to obtain and review a background check  he/she will be considered by NEC to have an unsatisfactory check and will be ineligible for initial or continuing employment, volunteer service, or vendor engagement with NEC.

5. The fees for each background record check will be paid for by NEC.

6. If an offer of employment, volunteer assignment or vendor engagement has been extended, prior to receiving the results of a background check on that employee, volunteer or vendor, the following language will be inserted in the offer letter or contract: 

“New England Conservatory requires a criminal record background check for the position or engagement you currently hold or have been engaged in.   Please note that commencement and continuation in this employment position, volunteer assignment, or vendor engagement with NEC is contingent upon a satisfactory review of such criminal background information.”

7. Unless otherwise provided by law, a criminal record will not automatically disqualify an individual from an employment, volunteer or vendor position.  Rather, determinations of suitability based on background checks will be made consistent with this policy and any applicable law or regulations. 

8. If a criminal record is received, the authorized individual will closely compare the record with the information on the background check consent form(s) and any other identifying information provided by the candidate, to ensure the record relates to the candidate.   If the results of the check(s) indicate that a criminal offense is present on an employee's record, Human Resources and another authorized person will make a decision on the person’s continued employment, volunteer engagement or vendor engagement or termination of the employee, volunteer or vendor.
9. When evaluating a background check that includes information about a criminal conviction, the authorized administrators at NEC may review the relevant information from other agencies as well as facts and circumstances of the criminal record.  Before seeking any additional information from the individual, Human Resources will provide the individual with a copy of the criminal record.  Human Resources may request that the individual submit additional information, including a letter from the individual’s probation, or parole officer, treating professional, or other knowledgeable source, if not already supplied.  Human Resources may seek additional information from other appropriate sources.

10. Following a review, Human Resources shall make a preliminary determination whether or not to hire the candidate, assign the volunteer, or engage the vendor. Human Resources shall document, in writing, the reasons for the potential adverse action.  This information shall be included in the individual’s background check file.

11. If NEC is inclined to make an adverse decision based on the results of the background check, the individual will be notified immediately. The individual shall be provided with a copy of the criminal record and this Policy, advised of the part(s) of the record that make the individual unsuitable for the position, and given an opportunity to dispute the accuracy and relevance of the Background record, to the extent permitted by law.

12. If NEC is inclined to make an adverse decision based on the information provided by DCJIS iCORI, individuals shall also be provided a copy of DCJIS’s Information Concerning the Process in Correcting a Criminal Record.  If the background record provided does not exactly match the identification information provided by the candidate, NEC will make a determination based on a comparison of the background record and documents provided by the candidate.

13. If a candidate/employee/volunteer/ or vendor challenges unsatisfactory information on a background check he/she may work directly with the appropriate authorities to clear up the discrepancy but may not be employed or engaged by NEC until satisfactory results are obtained by a new background check. 

14.If NEC reasonably believes the information concerns the candidate/employee/volunteer or vendor is accurate, then the determination of suitability for the position or engagement will be made. Unless otherwise provided by law, factors considered in determining suitability may include, but not be limited to the following:
(a) Relevance of the crime to the position sought;
(b) The nature of the work to be performed;
(c) Time since the conviction;
(d) Age of the candidate at the time of the offense;
(e) Seriousness and specific circumstances of the offense;
(f) The number of offenses;
(g) Whether the candidate/employee/volunteer/vendor has pending charges;
(h) Any relevant evidence of rehabilitation or lack thereof;
(i) Any other relevant information, including information submitted by the candidate/employee/volunteer/vendor or requested by the hiring authority.

15. NEC will notify the candidate/employee/volunteer/vendor of the decision and the basis of the decision in a timely manner.

16. Results of any record checks are kept stored on a password protected and encrypted website. Supporting documentation and consent forms will be kept in a separate locked file cabinet in Human Resources when not being inspected.  Access to records by any individual other than those authorized by NEC and the DCJIS for such access is prohibited. Background reports are confidential and should not be disseminated to any other agency or individual.

17. Background records for candidates/employees/volunteer/vendor that are not hired/assigned shall be maintained for one year.

2013-07-08


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