Teacher Background Checks: How to Protect Your Children

— -- The revelation that JonBenet Ramsey's alleged killer, John M. Karr, was a former schoolteacher will no doubt rekindle questions about how teachers are screened before hiring.

One thing is clear: When it comes to background checks, states have wildly varying standards.

Here are questions experts say parents should ask school officials about their hiring procedures:

Does your school district require criminal background checks?

Are the background checks done at both the state and federal level?

Are checks done for existing teachers, or only for new hires?

Does your school district require prospective teachers to be fingerprinted, as part of the background check?

Are thorough interviews done with the references provided by potential teachers?