This article outlines when it is necessary to get approval for a disclosure (related to criminal history, job dismissal and, less often, disclosures around difficult personal history) in the mentor application. In order to ensure that each applicant will be a safe and appropriate mentor, the screening team must take some of the applicant's personal, criminal and job history into consideration before accepting them to the program.
Mentor applicants are asked in the application to disclose criminal history. Additionally, applicants may disclose a history of abuse in their definitions or in the “Anything to help match with a mentee” section of the application. It is also possible that the applicant will disclose experience of abuse during the mentor interview itself or at another time during the screening process, or one of their references may bring something up. Disclosures need to be reviewed by the screener, the Associate Director of Mentor Screening and may be discussed during the mentor interview before they can move forward. Sometimes disclosures warrant a yellow or red flag as well.
Criminal & Job Dismissal Disclosures on the Application
If an applicant answers YES to any of the 3 questions on the application (under the ‘Disclosures’ section in Salesforce) and provides a disclosure, you must chatter notify the Associate Director of Mentor Screening for approval. This should be done as soon as you discover the disclosure such as your initial post-orientation application review. Do not wait until you are ready to put the applicant into buddy approval to request approval of the disclosure.
Abuse or other personal disclosures in definitions, “Anything to help match with a mentee” section of the application, or during the mentor interview
If there are significant personal disclosures of abuse in the applicant's definitions of emotional, physical and sexual abuse or elsewhere, please notify your manager for a second opinion and review, if possible, before the mentor interview, in order to go over strategies for discussing it with the applicant. If an applicant discloses personal experience with abuse during the interview itself, kindly follow up with: Thank you very much for sharing. And how do you feel you’re doing now? Could you support a student who might have been through something similar? Notify your manager after the mentor interview to discuss. Sometimes a match note recommendation may be made to aide in matching if the applicant is deemed appropriate.
A reference discloses sensitive information about the applicant
If a reference discloses sensitive information about an applicant (which is not previously documented elsewhere) in their reference, notify your manager using the same procedure as above. It may be recommended to call the reference to follow up.
Following up on a disclosure
When you chatter the Associate Director or your manager about a disclosure, they may request that you follow up with the applicant, either during the mentor interview or in a separate call, to obtain more information. A criminal or dismissal disclosure that involves any form of violence should always be followed up on and more information gathered. Any very recent (within the last 2-3 years) disclosures should also be discussed.
In other cases, the Associate Director of Screening may approve the disclosure without requesting more information. Examples of this include misdemeanors such as underage drinking, or a DUI that happened many years ago (i.e during college for an older applicant). If you are unsure about whether a disclosure requires further follow-up with the applicant, discuss it with your manager.
An example of language for following up on a disclosure is as follows:
"I see that you’ve disclosed a misdemeanor in your application. I wanted to give you the chance to say more about it and give us additional insight or information as this will be subject to an internal review along with your formal background check.
[screener response to applicant’s additional context]
Thank you for your candor. We will let you know if we need additional information. Please respond in a timely manner if CPS/ DOE/ BCPS/ the school district reaches out to you asking for additional information (could be court documents etc). Out of respect for your privacy, they won’t tell us anything about their process for this or details about your background- they will only provide the results of your background check or notify us if they decide to pursue an investigation."
If a mentor applicant discloses personal experience of abuse in either the application or during the mentor interview, ask follow-up questions if necessary in order to better understand the applicant’s current status, same as mentioned above: Thank you very much for sharing. And how do you feel you’re doing now? Could you support a student who might have been through something similar?. By asking the applicant to share their experience and reflect on their own healing and recovery, we are able to ensure that there are no unresolved issues that may impact their ability to mentor effectively. An overly emotional response, for example, may indicate that the applicant would find it difficult to support their mentee if he/she/they were going through something similar.
For more information about how to discuss difficult or delicate questions during the mentor interview, please refer to this article about Strategies for Difficult Conversations.