All applicants for jobs with the Fairfax County school system would be fingerprinted and checked for criminal backgrounds in an effort to weed out pedophiles, under a bill approved by the House Courts of Justice Committee.

In the last year, Fairfax County schools have had eight instances of detected sexual abuse of children for which employees have been fired, said Del. Alan E. Mayer (D-Fairfax), chief patron of the bill.

"Pedophiles are not appropriate people to be working in our public schools," Mayer said. "If they caught eight in one year and that's just the tip of the iceberg, it's a significant problem."

Current teachers and other employees would not be subject to the fingerprinting and criminal records check, he said.

Prospective teachers and other employees would be screened by the FBI, through the Virginia state police, for any out-of-state convictions for particular crimes, including abduction for immoral purposes, sexual assault, taking indecent liberties with children and neglect.

The bill was made to apply only to Fairfax because of potential cost to the state police if it were done statewide, Mayer said.

Most of the Northern Virginia delegation were copatrons on the measure, which was approved on a 10-to-5 vote.