Zimfest to Add Background Checks for Festival Teachers

To help ensure a safe and enjoyable Zimfest experience for all participants, the Zimfest Association Board of Directors recently developed a Zimfest Code of Conduct. To further ensure a safe environment for Zimfest participants, the Board also approved mandatory criminal background checks for Zimfest 2019 teachers. Criminal background checks are standard practice at many non-profit organizations, which can be held legally liable for any misconduct resulting from a failure to conduct background checks.

The Zimfest Association has selected Coeus Global, which specializes in serving non-profit organizations at affordable prices, to provide background checks. For individuals with US social security numbers, the search will include two items: (1) the United States National Criminal Database (which covers felonies but not misdemeanors) and (2) the United States Nationwide Sex Offender registry. The Board is investigating options for individuals who do not have social security numbers.

Individuals applying to teach at Zimfest 2019 need do nothing at this point regarding background checks. After an applicant has been selected as a teacher, they will be provided a link to the Zimfest portal on the Coeus Global website, to sign a release for the background check and enter personal information. The period of time a background check report may cover differs by state; with Zimfest 2019 being held in Oregon, this period is unlimited (other states may, for example, limit background check reports to the 7 years prior to the current date). To be employed as a Zimfest teacher, a “clear” criminal background report will be required.

As part of our commitment to transparency and safety, members of the Zimfest Board of Directors will also undergo background checks this year. Following this pilot program, the Board will evaluate expanding criminal background checks to additional groups (e.g., Festival Organizing Committee and other volunteers). Our paramount goal is to provide the best experience for everyone as we come together at Zimfest to enjoy and share the music that we love.

—Zimfest Association Board of Directors

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3 Comments on “Zimfest to Add Background Checks for Festival Teachers

  1. Lucky Moyo says:

    Great move this. In the U.K. we have Barring and Disclosure Service and people working young and adult vulnerable people have to go through this process:

    Zimfest should be by now have a SafeGurading and Welfare officer/team. This is standard practise for schools , festivals and. Gatherings here in the U.K.

    The little flow with this policy though is that everything seems to focus on sexual crimes/ concerns and what do we with/about racism, theft, bullying, discrimination and other such issues

    It would crucial to include a few regular Zimbabwean teachers when making such policies so that the approach and even devising such policies is holistic and inclusive.

    Cultural difference could lead to different view points in such issues.

    Just a humble reflective thought…

  2. Claire Jones says:

    Thanks so much for your comments, Lucky, we will see about broadening the discussion in ways that you suggest. I really appreciate your being so engaged with Zimfest!

  3. Janis Weeks says:

    Thanks, Lucky. Especially when developing & implementing new policies, the Board values feedback from our community. The newly instituted Code of Conduct (https://zimfest.org/festival/code-of-conduct/) does address bullying based on race, gender, sexual orientation, etc., and other unacceptable behaviors, in addition to sexual misconduct. Three of us are listed as contacts in the Code, perhaps corresponding to your SafeGuarding and Welfare officer/team. Maybe we need an official title for this group. Regarding theft, violent crimes, domestic abuse, etc., the Criminal Background Check will pick up felony convictions, but not misdemeanors, which would cost more than twice as much per person to check. Running checks on individuals who do not have US social security numbers and live outside the US can cost hundreds of dollars per person. All input and advice from the Zimfest Community as we move forward on these new policies & procedures is greatly appreciated.