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Mount Wachusett Community College could not provide Criminal Offender Record Information reports for all students who were enrolled in early childhood education practicum courses.

Without proof that CORI checks have been performed for practicum students, MWCC risks allowing practicum students with criminal records to work with children in daycare centers.

Table of Contents

Overview

Mount Wachusett Community College (MWCC) could not provide 40 of the 95 requested Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) reports for students enrolled in early childhood education (ECE) practicum courses during the audit period. The practicum courses provide students with experience working with children in ECE settings, specifically local daycare centers. Without proof that CORI checks have been performed for practicum students, MWCC risks allowing practicum students with criminal records to work with children in daycare centers.

Authoritative Guidance

MWCC’s course catalogs during the audit period stated, “Students participating in [an ECE] practicum must undergo a Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) check.”

Reasons for Noncompliance

MWCC officials told us that CORI checks were performed for all students participating in practicum courses; however, the college does not have a policy that requires it to confirm that CORI checks have been performed on students before their placements. Additionally, MWCC does not maintain documentation of these CORI checks in students’ files.

Recommendation

MWCC should implement a policy to monitor whether students have had CORI checks before they participate in ECE practicum courses and develop a procedure to ensure compliance with the policy.

Auditee's Response

The audit covers the period July 1, 2016 through December 31, 2018. Late in 2018, the College had already become aware of some procedural items related to the CORI check process and made plans to tighten up the process. As indicated in the audit report, the College did perform CORI checks on all students participating in practicum courses, however, the process did not include adequate feedback of the results with the program administrators and the inquiry results were not properly retained in the school’s records.

In February of 2019, the process was changed to include the following new aspect;

  • The process of screening and clearing students was moved from the campus police department to the student services division.
  • A CORI review committee comprised of representatives from across the College was formed to address student appeals, collectively examine cases, and interpret/enforce the Commonwealth’s position on these matters.
  • Any student who has a relevant finding must either meet with the Senior Dean of Student Services or—when the case stipulates—the CORI review committee.
  • All documentation is retained and filed by program.
  • Personnel involved in this process have received basic CORI training in Boston and also attend regular training updates.

Auditor's Reply

We commend the college’s efforts to identify and strengthen controls related to monitoring compliance with CORI check administration for students working with children in local daycare centers.

Date published: March 31, 2020
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