Massachusetts to require background checks on refs

February 26, 2015 /
The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association has approved a new measure that will require background checks for all of the state’s high school referees.

Massachusetts will begin conducting background checks on the state's 8,000-plus referees.
Massachusetts will begin conducting background checks on the state’s 8,000-plus referees.

The MIAA’s board of directors unanimously approved the screening program on Wednesday. The decision comes month’s after a Boston Globe investigation revealed a number of referees with criminal histories were approved to work games. Those crimes ranged from sexual assault of a young boy to drug trafficking.

Athletic directors around the state and even state legislators began calling for change, and on Wednesday that change was made official. The initiative is expected to launch this summer and background checks will be conducted on more than 8,000 referees and umpires, according to the Globe.

From the article:

“This is a big step in terms of becoming more actively engaged with a group of people who have been working with our kids,’’ said Richard Pearson, the MIAA’s associate executive director, who oversaw the initiative.

Massachusetts becomes the 28th state to require criminal background checks of officials. Under the plan, which MIAA executives said may be amended before it is fully implemented, each game official will undergo a comprehensive screening by the spring of 2016.

The state’s referees have been widely divided over the issue, with many supporting background checks to beef up student safety, and many others saying the checks would be an unnecessary and costly nuisance.

The article goes on to note that the MIAA plans to cover the program’s $280,000 to $320,000 cost by charging officials $35 to $40 per screening. The plan requires that officials be re-screened every five years, but some prefer that it be reduced to every three years, according to The Globe.

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