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Parents: How to Background Check Your Teachers and ISD Staff
Links and tools to run someone's background.
The following is a guest article via @mcgilvrey
We can assume that our reported expansive teacher shortage has yielded a class of less than desirable school staff in an effort to fill voluminous vacancies across the state. Some say teachers are leaving Texas because of the new continuing education requirements for teachers, or the pay isn't enough and the workload is overwhelming. Lending to the opinion that not only are school districts willing to hire below standard, but the staff that would conduct background searches is nonexistent.
On the Texas Education Agency's website you'll see that it only requires an applicant to obtain their criminal history directly from the county where they live. There's no state or nationwide criminal search required nor do they claim that they do this at any time during the application or hiring process.
Armed with some fantastic investigative tools, you'll learn how to follow digital footprints and find information that will blow your mind. Openly available to the general public, no professional license is needed, and most of these sites have a free version for you to test the results before you choose to buy access. These are referred to as Open Source Intelligence sources, or OSINT for short.
I do want to caution you on the chance that you'd find criminal activity on a person that is mistaken for your target. Using these investigative tools you should be able to eventually confirm an identity, and my advice comes from the experience of an associate locating a criminal record for a woman who had the same name and looked like the applicant's twin sister. Although they weren't related. The victim of the misidentity was awarded a healthy sum in her legal action.
Sites like the ones below tend to shut down after a few years, luckily the ones I've listed have longevity and a good customer base to keep them in business. If a site you like is no longer up, just search google with this term, "Sites like publicdata.com" and you'll find alternatives. Most provide enough information on a free search, but you may opt to purchase one month of access for the deep dive.
Since you're starting from scratch, you'll need to nail down what I call identifiers. This is a date of birth, a home address (regardless if it's old or current, this helps you confirm you're searching for the right person), phone numbers and the names of other people related to them. A trick to verify a date of birth, at least the day and month, is to scroll down your target's Facebook profile and look for posts to the timeline giving the target birthday wishes. You'll also need to grab a few images from social media, the school website (if the ISD posts staff images) so you can use facial recognition to find more sites pertaining to your “target.”
Here's a few free sites that could quickly get your target's basic info:
Outstanding results that have provided not only home address, email addresses, but also IP addresses that were found in consumer databases obtained when someone makes an online purchase and the IP address is logged as a fraud prevention tool.
Here you'll find a collection of social media site results, news articles, and blogs on your target. It's impossible to get your identity removed from this site because they freshly scrub thousands of sites and databases. Keep in mind that these are bait and switch sites, they'll give you a lot of free information and then prompt you with the option of buying a report from a third party affiliate. It's my experience that these sites don't provide current information because they're public records, just like the free sites that you're using.
Find the caller ID information on a phone number.
Whitepages.com and the Whitepages App
Here you can also find other people who lived with your target.
This is a pay site that provides criminal records for Texas, vehicle searches, driver's license information, and other data such as franchise tax, that Texas sells to third party vendors like this one. You're going to sign up for an Individual Account.
When you locate a vehicle your target is driving, you can hop over to your Carfax account and click on My Car Maintenance in the top menu. Here you can enter a license plate or VIN number and see where the vehicle has been serviced in the past which could provide new cities and counties to search.
A free search to see the date of inspection, pass or fail, and location of the station that inspected the vehicle. Also potentially providing a new region to search for criminal records.
Don't forget to check county voter registration lookups, the Texas Secretary of State provides a search but an identifier (date of birth or driver's license number) is required to complete the search. https://teamrv-mvp.sos.texas.gov/MVP/mvp.do
Texas Department of Transportation Website
Vehicle accident reports are also available online. Searching by name isn't available but if you know a date range and area where your target was involved in a crash, you can obtain information about the people involved, witnesses included. https://www.txdot.gov/apps-cg/crash_records/form.htm
From the main page you'll have the opportunity to upload an image and see authentic facial recognition results. Try your own picture first so you can see how amazingly accurate this search is! Here you'll be provided news articles and sites that have an image of your target. Since this is facial recognition, you'll find images that aren't the exact one you have. Make sure you download those too, you might need them in the future and bookmark all the links of interest.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice criminal record search is sadly inaccurate. All counties don't show in this search. The tiny $3 price for a search is fine for the first stop on the path to finding past convictions. If you don't have identifiers to aid in your search, you'll get a list of convicts to scroll through and you can preview the data, also you'll find quite a few with mugshots. As you find new counties that your target has lived in, you'll want to go directly to that county to search for criminal and civil cases.
Look for bench warrants here, this gives you court information, ticket information and fine amounts, along with the status of the case.
Freedom of Information Act
AKA FOIA, this wonderful tool will help you find calls to a law enforcement agency by providing a phone number, addresses, type of call and any notes that are public record. You'll ask for all calls made from a phone number and all calls to an address. You can also request the recording of the call (regardless if it's to 911 or the non emergency dispatch). There's no limitation on using the FOIA with any government agency or school district. Here you're asking for results of any background searches done and disciplinary records.
Any division or governmental office must comply with the Texas Freedom of Information Act, if you are denied information make haste to contact The Office of the Attorney General so their malfunction may swiftly be corrected. Most offices will ask for an email to be sent instead of a letter, just make sure you cover the identifiers, and also request that private information be redacted. Additionally, ask to be advised of any cost before the FOIA research is done so you don't get surprise charges.
This is a fantastic site that gives decent results with the free search on the main page. Just search all the email addresses you've located for your target to see if they have accounts with hundreds of different websites Epieos instantly searches. I've found accounts with Pornhub, Nike, Skype and Discord. New sites are added often making this a great tool to bookmark.
This is the Federal Criminal Court Search, registration is easy. Currently the first $30 of searches are at no cost but if you go one dime over (cost per page is .10¢) you're charged in full. Congress plans to make this completely free in the future, helping you get your searches done without costing hundreds of dollars. This is the site that was used to locate possession of child pornography charges for a man currently working at a public school.
The national sex offender registry covers the entire nation. Be aware that if someone is sentenced to be in the registry only until a specific date that you may not find them here, but you'll find the criminal record in the state or county criminal records search. Social media and dating sites can obtain these records free of charge in an effort to keep sex offenders from using social media. When you locate someone in the sex offender registry on social media, just report them using this link. https://www.facebook.com/help/contact/207005222725325
BTW, if you find a sex offender that isn't where he's supposed to be living, the state of Texas pays a handsome reward for the information. https://absconder.tdcj.texas.gov/absconder/requireAcceptanceHomeAction
Use Google Alerts https://www.google.com/alerts to enter names, phone numbers, addresses and other specific terms that relate to your target so if anything is published Google will immediately send you an email with the link.
Lastly, I encourage you to search the Texas Protective Order Database https://topics.txcourts.gov/ProtectiveOrdersPublic and if you or someone you know has been the victim of domestic violence and a protective order was issued, consider requesting your protective order to be included.
Don't forget to keep good notes and bookmark everything, save website pages with results as PDF's, and leave your questions in the comments below!
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