Wisconsin school boards could soon have the ability to turn down job applicants because of their criminal record.

Legislation passed by the Assembly on Wednesday allows school boards to refuse employment to job applicants who were convicted of a felony. State Representative Jerry Petrowski (R-Marathon) is the bill's sponsor. He says the bill doesn't prevent schools from hiring a felon, but it gives them the discretion to make the decision on their own.

Current law prohibits discrimination based on criminal background, unless the conviction relates to the job. State Representative Tamara Grigsby (D-Milwaukee) says that policy helps rehabilitate former offenders and return them to society. She says the bill passed by the Assembly provides another tool to discriminate against those with a criminal past, even if they're trying to get their life back together.

Petrowski says school boards should be able to determine who has access to kids.

The bill passed the Assembly on a 54-42 vote. It now heads to the Senate. 

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (MP3 :52)

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