indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439   fax: 202 318 2182
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Report finds lax safety measures at BIA schools
Thursday, April 8, 2004

The Bureau of Indian Affairs has put Indian students at risk by hiring people with violent criminal backgrounds to work at schools, an internal investigation concluded.

An audit by the Department of Interior's inspector general found that the BIA's screening process for education workers was flawed. Employees were hired before their background checks were completed and were allowed to remain on the job even when criminal offenses were discovered, investigators said.

The report acknowledges that only a small percentage of employees are deemed unsuitable to work at the 185 schools and dormitories that make up the BIA system. "However, the BIA's background investigation process allows those few unsuitable individuals to be hired and possibly have contact with Indian children," the audit stated.

Investigators identified three general problems with the BIA's screening process. The BIA hired employees without timely initiation of local law enforcement checks and hired employees before FBI checks were completed, the report stated.

Also, the audit determined, there is "insufficient accountability" within the BIA to ensure that background checks are completed and that unsuitable people are removed promptly.

Investigators cited some specific instances in which the process failed. "We concluded that BIA's background investigation process is not sufficient to prevent Indian children from potentially being in danger," the report stated.

In one example, a living assistant was hired to work at a dormitory in New Mexico without the required local law enforcement check. The assistant remained on the job for 17 months before BIA discovered the person had 26 offenses including battery and endangering the welfare of a minor.

Yet the assistant was allowed to stay on that job for five more months before a final decision to transfer the person was made, the report stated.

In another case, an education aide in New Mexico was hired before an FBI check was completed. When the check was finally completed seven months later, it showed a battery and child endangerment conviction. The employee wasn't removed for seven more months, the report said.

The inspector general completed its draft audit in October 2003 but the final report wasn't made public until this month. A March 5 letter from a regional audit manager said the BIA had until April 9 to respond to some outstanding issues.

In a December 31, 2003, letter, the BIA said it was "committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of the children we service." Woodrow Hopper, who was acting principal deputy assistant secretary at the time, cited "significant improvements" in the screening of applicants and employees at BIA schools.

One change was the establishment of a security office within the Office of Indian Education Programs. The recent reorganization of the BIA also put the Office of Law Enforcement Services in charge of all security and screening issues.

In response to the report, the BIA agreed to stop hiring employees until after the FBI check is completed. But the inspector general said it had no way of ensuring whether this change is being implemented.

The BIA did not agree with a recommendation regarding who initiates local law enforcement checks. The report called for this duty to be taken away from each school and transferred to the security office.

BIA instead suggested to have each school work with the security office, citing the lengthy and costly process. The inspector general said it considers this issue unresolved.

About 48,000 students attend BIA schools throughout the nation.

Get the Report:
Improvements Needed in the Bureau of Indian Affairs Process for Conducting Background Investigations of Indian Education Employees (March 2004)

Relevant Links:
Office of Indian Education Programs - http://www.oiep.bia.edu

Related Stories:
Tribal leaders denounce BIA budget plans as reckless (03/24)
BIA education programs taking $79 million hit (3/23)
Indian educators meet for legislative summit (3/22)
BIA student struggles familiar ground for Anderson (03/18)
Videotape captured teen's death at boarding school (3/1)
Anderson takes message to Indian Country youth (2/18)
Anderson asks for prayers in new job as head of BIA (02/05)
Drinking said rampant at BIA boarding school in Ore. (01/22)
Autopsy: BIA student died of alcohol poisoning (1/16)
Warm Springs teen dies at BIA boarding school (12/12)
Survey finds high-risk behaviors among BIA students (11/13)
Smoking rates among Natives highest in nation (10/10)
Study links childhood experience to alcohol abuse (09/19)
Indian Country tops drug report again (9/17)
Native youth top drug use survey again (09/06)
Native youth targeted in anti-drug ads (5/17)
Native youth heaviest smokers in nation (4/3)
Report: Native youth highest drug users (10/5)
Ad campaign targets youth drug use (9/7)
Drug use high among Native youth (9/1)

Copyright 2000-2004 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: US Senate candidates debate Native issues (9/18)
Cobell settlement checks landing in Indian Country mailboxes (9/18)
Sen. Walsh welcomes arrival of last Cobell settlement payout (9/18)
Rep. Daines praises House action on tribal general welfare bill (9/18)
Winnebago attorney joins BIA as a deputy assistant secretary (9/18)
NWIFC schedules briefing on 'Treaty Rights 101' on Capitol Hill (9/18)
Norbert Hill: It's past time to drop the Washington NFL mascot (9/18)
Peter d'Errico: Connecting mascots to racism and termination (9/18)
Opinion: Eliminating NFL team's racist mascot is just the start (9/18)
Student newspaper punished over refusal to print the R-word (9/18)
Officer investigated for 'drunk uneducated animals' comment (9/18)
9th Circuit rules against Chemehuevi Tribe in land deed case (9/18)
Mashable: Oglala Sioux man still pushing MazaCoin currency (9/18)
City won't allow vote on Tohono O'odham Nation casino plan (9/18)
9th Circuit poses tough questions in Big Lagoon casino case (9/18)
North Fork Rancheria banks on voter approval of casino deal (9/18)
KBIC judge dismisses lawsuit challenging plan for new casino (9/18)
Oneida Nation concerned about location of commercial casino (9/18)
Mashantucket Tribe's gaming executive to resign next month (9/18)
Column: Time for Mohegan Tribe to show its hand over casino (9/18)
Native Sun News: Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe honors veterans (9/17)
Mark Trahant: Is independence in the future for tribal nations? (9/17)
Audio: SCIA takes up bill to bar Tohono O'odham Nation casino (9/17)
House approves bill to address tribal general welfare programs (9/17)
House Natural Resources Committee sets markup on tribal bills (9/17)
House subcommittee to hold hearing on bill for Hualapai Tribe (9/17)
9th Circuit takes up Big Lagoon Rancheria gaming land dispute (9/17)
House passes bill to shield Gun Lake Tribe casino from litigation (9/17)
Andre Cramblit: Enjoying life at Dartmouth as a Native student (9/17)
Dina Gilio-Whitaker: Tribes need to lead climate change reform (9/17)
Sarah Deer wins genius grant for work to protect Native women (9/17)
Tex Hall loses bid for another term as chair of North Dakota tribe (9/17)
Group starts dragging of river in search of missing Native women (9/17)
Appeal filed over Navajo language ability of presidential hopeful (9/17)
Trial delayed for leader of Muscogee Nation accused in theft case (9/17)
Editorial: Pass bill to extend federal recognition to Virginia tribes (9/17)
NLRB reaffirms jurisdiction over Little River Band gaming facility (9/17)
Chumash Tribe to use labor unions for all work on casino project (9/17)
Student arrested over theft at Saginaw Chippewa Tribe's casino (9/17)
Native Sun News: Homeless students find support in Rapid City (9/16)
Checks from final payment of Cobell settlement put in the mail (9/16)
DOI offers $9.4M for Cobell buy-backs on Umatilla Reservation (9/16)
House takes up bill to address tribal general welfare programs (9/16)
Tribal leaders headed to Capitol Hill to push legislative priorities (9/16)
NMAI hosts symposium on treaties to coincide with new exhibit (9/16)
Witnesses: Hearing on bill to bar Tohono O'odham Nation casino (9/16)
Rival tribes spend $13M to block Tohono O'odham Nation casino (9/16)
Mark Charles: Trail of Tears sign points to much deeper problem (9/16)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.