CHICAGO (CBS) — When education majors return to Illinois colleges and universities in the new year, they’ll have to submit to sweeping criminal background checks before student teaching.

Student teachers already are required to undergo background checks at each local school where they teach, but a new law taking effect Jan. 1 aims to clear up any gaps, according to state Sen. Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago), who sponsored the measure.

“There’s sort of the hole in this safety net, so to speak, in that school districts were frequently unable to check the FBI database that would show whether or not a student teacher had some sort of criminal background in another state,” he said.

Cunningham said he drafted the legislation after hearing from the Illinois State Board of Education that the old system would not always pick up cases of out-of-state students attending college in Illinois who were convicted of crimes elsewhere.

“Because there wasn’t this integration with the federal system, we probably would not have caught that arrest that happened in the student teacher’s home state. This will close that loophole,” he said.

The senator said he’s not aware of any specific situation in which a student teacher convicted of a violent crime got into a classroom, but he said the new law is a protective measure.