CMS officials emphasize safety changes for upcoming school year

The start of the school year is fast approaching, and when the first bell rings on Monday, there's a chance not all new staff will have passed the required background test. 

New superintendent Earnest Winston says they are trying everything they can to get those employees in for the start of the year. 

"We do have a system in place for those teachers in other employees who have not been fingerprinted. We have a process in place so that we can make sure expertise those and get those done as quickly as possible," said Winston.

When it comes to fingerprinting and background checks, safety remains a topic of discussion after last April when FOX 46 uncovered that one of CMS's former volunteers, Ricardo Mata--who is now charged with sex crimes against children--was in the United States illegally, according to ICE.

LINK: CMS parents concerned over teacher fingerprinting

Winston says the district will check volunteers daily. 

"All of our volunteers are required before they step into a school house they are required to undergo a background check." 

 Fingerprinting volunteers is something being discussed by the district, but it's not in place at this time. 

"We are obviously watching to make sure if anyone comes into our school as a volunteer we are wanting to make sure they belong there so what we do with our volunteers is we run nightly background checks," Winston said. 

CMS officials said they hired more than 4,200 employees district wide since March, including more than 2,100 teachers, but say they still have some openings remaining. They say there are about 80 teacher vacancies and 15 bus vacancies. 

In another area of safety, officials say they are bringing on more mental health specialists for students and staff. Counselors, psychologists and social workers will be added to schools.

"We will have a social worker and every high school needs title one school, working out of the Salvation Army shelter to support those women and children and ten social workers our homeless students," a CMS official Cotrane Penn said. 

Although the district falls short in the recommended professional per student ratio, Penn says this is another step in the right direction.

"We can expect to see higher number of counseling groups to our students, more individual counseling, more behavior support, classroom management assistance for our teachers and also more general social and emotional programs available for the students at the school."