After Y.U. Drama, What About Other Jewish Groups Where Akiva Roth Worked?

No Background Checks at JTS — Hillel Says Wasn't Employee

Cut Loose: Akiva Roth is no longer working at Yeshiva U., a spokesman said. Do other Jewish groups where he worked have policies to prevent hiring sex offenders?
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Cut Loose: Akiva Roth is no longer working at Yeshiva U., a spokesman said. Do other Jewish groups where he worked have policies to prevent hiring sex offenders?

By Paul Berger

Published October 12, 2013.
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A Jewish blog, FailedMessiah, reported that Roth previously worked at JTS. Roth’s employment at JTS was confirmed by Tablet, an online Jewish magazine.

Daniel Swinton, senior executive vice president of The NCHERM Group, a law and consulting firm that advises schools and colleges on risk management, said that the majority of colleges submit new hires to a criminal background check.

The minority of colleges who do not background check staff are usually smaller institutions that are reticent to spend the time or money on such a check, he said. But Swinton added that not running a criminal background check is “not best practice and not advised in this day and age.”

He said that to ask about a criminal record on an application form but to not follow up with an independent background check is “asking for trouble, really.”

JTS’s Dowell said: “JTS is committed to creating a safe environment for our students, faculty, and staff. While we believe our processes to be consistent with best practices among our peer institutions, we regularly evaluate to identify areas of improvement and will continue to do so, including in this area.”

Roth also worked as a Hillel director at Drew University in Madison, N.J. from 1999 until 2006.

A spokeswoman for Hillel, Ellen Goldstein, said that Roth was at no time an employee. He served as Hillel’s faculty advisor at Drew but was employed by the university, she said.

Goldstein said that Hillel conducts criminal background checks on all employees apart from those instances, at several, smaller, private schools, where “the universities are responsible for conducting background checks” themselves.

Roth was an adjunct professor at Drew University during the period he was employed as a Hillel director. Drew University did not immediately respond to a request from the Forward for comment.

Contact Paul Berger at berger@forward.com or on Twitter @pdberger


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