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School board isn't violating Education Act by not checking backgrounds of construction workers

Despite coming under scrutiny last week the Ottawa Carleton District School Board isn't breaking any rules by not requiring criminal records checks for all construction workers.

The Education Act states it is up to individual school boards to decide who qualifies as a regular service provider and therefore needs to have their background clear of criminal activity.

The Ottawa Carleton District School Board has decided construction workers don't fit the bill because they're temporary and have very limited contact with the students.

The policy now requires records checks for supervisors within the contracted companies. The board also puts provisions in all contracts that allow the board to force a contractor to dismiss workers the board deems inappropriate.

"The best measures we can put in place is to make sure that we have sound project planning at the beginning and strong supervision every hour of the day that the kids are in the schools," said OCDSB Chief Financial Officer, Mike Carson.

He said the board hires its own project managers who are on site intermittently and liaise between school principals, the board and the contractors to make sure everyone knows who is allowed to be on school property and at what time.

He said despite the policy having been effective over the past several years there are a few things the board is looking into.

"In terms of whether we need to change our practices or maybe just communicate the existing practices better," he said.

Carson said because there is more construction happening during school hours it may be time to update their practices.

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