ALTON – The Illinois High School Association, which employs referees and umpires at high school athletic events across the state, is implementing changes to help keep students safe by requiring background screenings on event officials.
The move was announced after the introduction of legislation calling for such a protocol was introduced by state Rep. Dan Beiser, D-Alton,
“As a parent and grandparent, I want to know that any adult who goes into our schools doesn’t put our children in danger,” Beiser said. “I would like to thank the IHSA for immediately taking action to improve the background checks for officials who oversee athletic events in our schools.”
Beiser filed legislation after reports found that a sex offender was officiating athletic events in Southern Illinois. In response to his legislation, the IHSA will now take the necessary steps to check their officials against the Statewide Sex Offender Database and the Statewide Murderer and Violent Offender Against Youth Database on a quarterly basis. The IHSA will also make their list of licensed officials available to the Illinois Elementary School Association and the Illinois Junior High School Athletic Association.
“As a result of the cooperation between Rep. Dan Beiser and the IHSA, we have expanded our relationship with the Illinois State Police to enable access to a more comprehensive criminal database in which to check our officials database against, including those convicted of violent crimes and sex crimes,” said Craig Anderson, executive director of the IHSA. “House Bill 256 that was originally introduced by Rep. Beiser provided the impetus for the IHSA to implement a more stringent and timely check as well as expanding the opportunity to access our database of licensed officials to these other associations. We appreciate the opportunity to work with Rep. Beiser on these changes.”
The House bill was referred to committee, and no other formal action had been taken as of last week.
“The actions that the IHSA took now brings them into compliance with the legislation that I introduced,” Beiser said. “I look forward to continuing to work with the IHSA to ensure our students, teachers and families are safe as they enjoy athletic competitions throughout the state.”