Federal Criminal History Background Checks
THE FEE CHARGED FOR FEDERAL
(FBI) CRIMINAL HISTORY BACKGROUND CHECKS WAS REDUCED TO $24.25. (All
applicants will now receive an unofficial copy of their
Criminal History Background Checks required by Act 114 of 2006, 24 PS 1-111 as
amended (Act 61 of 2008)
2007, Act 114 of 2006
has required that ALL prospective
employees of public and private schools, including their independent contractors
and their employees, but excluding employees who do not have direct contact with
students, undergo background checks.
Applicants are required to submit their background check reports to their
prospective public and private school employers. The law also requires student teachers to
undergo background checks and present their reports to their higher education
institution prior to field experience.
There are three required background checks for
ALL public and private
schools are required to review the background check reports, including the
federal criminal history record information (CHRI) reports of all prospective
employees and independent contractors who will have contact with children. The higher education institution administrator
is responsible for reviewing the reports of prospective student teachers. The school/higher education administrator
must make a determination regarding the fitness of the individual to work in a
position where he or she will have contact with children. The review and fitness
determination is required PRIOR to the applicant working in a school.
*The PA State Police
report has been required for applicants for school employment since 1986.
2007, the Federal
Criminal History Report was only required in PA schools for out-of-state
applicants. The CHRI is the result of an FBI fingerprint-based background check.
Act 114 requires the report to be reviewed in a manner prescribed by
3M Cogent manages
the fingerprinting process for the Department of Education. This includes hosting a website, staffing a
help desk, and establishing fixed sites for the taking of and transmitting of
applicants’ fingerprints. These services
became operational on March 30,
2007. During the first year of this requirement,
over 170,000 individuals were fingerprinted and obtained federal Criminal
History Record Information (CHRI) reports from the FBI. During the first twenty months of the
operation of this program, the FBI mailed paper copies of the reports to
PDE mailed the reports
to the applicants. Given the high volume
of reports and the need to improve the process, PDE requested that 3M
Cogent develop a process that could be managed entirely online. This change expedites the process and
efficiently handles the high volume of federal criminal background checks
requested each month. The electronic
system is designed to make reports available within two days and enables school
administrators to review the reports online.
This new process has been in place since December 1,
2008 and is described in
The Act requires that all of the
following individuals who will have direct contact
with children (as defined in 22 Pa. Code § 8.1) provide to their prospective
employer a copy of their Federal Criminal History Record, PA State Police Report
and DPW Child Abuse Report
that cannot be more than five (5) years old at the time of
- Student teachers (participating in classroom teaching, internships, clinical or field experience),
- Prospective employees of public and private schools, Intermediate Units and Area Vocational-Technical Schools (including, but not limited to: administrators, teachers, substitutes, custodians, cafeteria workers and office employees), and
- Independent contractors and their
employees (including, but not limited to: bus drivers, PIAA Sports Officials,
and construction workers).
employees/student teacher candidates/contractors and their employees, hereafter
referred to collectively as applicant, are to submit with their employment
application State and Federal criminal history reports (for the Federal
Criminal History Report the applicant is to submit their Registration
ID) or a copy of the completed form/request. Criminal history reports
(results of background checks) shall be no more than five years old at the time of
require each applicant to produce the original criminal history reports prior to
employment or follow appropriate procedures to employ applicants on a
provisional basis, until the report is received and reviewed. Student teacher candidates are to submit
their criminal history reports to the administrator of the educator preparation
program prior to participation in any classroom teaching, internship, or
clinical or field experience.
conditions listed in the Law are met, when the applicant provides a copy of the
completed registration form to the administrator, the administrator may employ
applicants on a provisional basis for a single period not to exceed 90 days (see
An administrator or
other person responsible for employment decisions in a school or other
institution under this section who willfully fails to comply with the provisions
of this section commits a violation of this Act and shall be subject to civil
penalty. A civil penalty shall not exceed $2,500. Procedures that will be
followed by staff of the School Services
Unit when investigating
alleged violations of 24 PS 1-111 are contained in Basic Education Circular 24 PS 1-111 Violations of Background Checks.
Fee: $24.25; All applicants
will now receive an unofficial copy of their report. Fee is
payable to 3M Cogent.
The fingerprint-based background
check is a multiple-step process, as follows:
- Registration - The applicant must
register prior to going to the fingerprint site. Walk in service without
prior registration will not be provided at any fingerprinting location.
Registration is completed online or over the phone. Registration is available
online 24 hours/day, seven days per week at www.pa.cogentid.com. Telephonic registration is
available at 1-888-439-2486 Monday through Friday, 8am to 6pm EST. During the
registration process, all demographic data for the applicant is collected (name,
address, SSN, etc.); there is no
data entry required or allowed at the fingerprint collection site. Any
corrections to this data must be made prior to being
- Payment - The applicant will pay a fee
of $24.25 for the fingerprint service and to secure an unofficial copy of the
Criminal History Record. Applicants may make their payment online using a credit
card or debit card during the registration process. Money orders or cashiers
checks payable to 3M Cogent will be accepted on site for those applicants who
do not have the means to pay electronically. No cash transactions or personal checks are
3M Cogent has also
established an agency billing
procedure for fingerprinting services from an appropriate requesting agency that
is willing to pay the applicant’s fee. Billing may only occur after the
requesting agency has completed the 3M Cogent Agency Pay Agreement. To establish
a billing account, visit the website www.pa.cogentid.com and download an application. The
billing account must be established prior to sending applicants to the
- Fingerprint Locations – After
registration, the applicant proceeds to the fingerprint site of their choice for
fingerprinting. 3M Cogent has established over 80 sites across the Commonwealth.
The location of the fingerprint sites and days and hours of operation for each
site are posted on 3M Cogent's website at www.pa.cogentid.com. The location of fingerprint sites
may change over time; applicants are encouraged to confirm the site location
nearest to their location. PDE encourages entities
where access to the fingerprint location is more than 20 miles away to contact
3M Cogent and suggest areas where another closer site could be established.
- Fingerprinting - At the fingerprint
site the Applicant Livescan Operators (ALO) manage the
fingerprint collection process. The fingerprint transaction begins when the
ALO reviews the
applicant’s qualified State or Federal photo ID before processing the
applicant’s transaction. A list of approved ID type may be found on the 3M
Cogent website at www.pa.cogentid.com. Applicants will not be processed
if they cannot produce an acceptable photo ID. After the identity of the
applicant has been established, all ten fingers are scanned to complete the
process. The entire fingerprint capture process should take no more than three
to five minutes.
- Report Access – To begin the
registration process, applicants check a box to confirm that school entities are
authorized to review their official report electronically. For the public or private school or higher
education institution to access the official report via the electronic system,
applicants must present their Registration ID to the hiring entity.
This process allows an applicant to provide multiple potential employers with
their Registration ID, as the report
is linked to the Registration ID number and not assigned to a specific school.
To retrieve this personalized number, applicants can return to the Cogent
registration website and select “Proof of Transaction (Receipts)”. Applicants will enter their personal
information in the lower portion of that screen to obtain their receipt with the
Registration ID at the top.
School entities are
not permitted to print a copy of an
applicant’s report for the applicant’s personal reference. Applicants will receive a paper copy of their
CHRI report. The paper copy will not be
regarded as the official report; but, it will provide an applicant with a copy
of the information that the school administrator will see when the report is
reviewed. The applicant may share the
paper copy of the CHRI with prospective employers. However, the school is
required to review the official CHRI online and print a file copy of the CHRI if
the applicant is hired by the school or their contractor, or if the applicant is
approved for student teaching.
applicant’s scanned fingerprints and registration information will be
electronically transmitted by 3M Cogent via Cogent’s approved channeling process
directly to the FBI. The fingerprints are run against the FBI database, and the
report is sent directly from the FBI back to 3M Cogent. Currently, 3M Cogent maintains the
reports for one year from the date of the report on a secure server
(accessible by school entities). After one year, the reports are destroyed.
or the FBI or 3M Cogent stores an applicant’s fingerprints. If an applicant is
required to obtain a new report, the applicant must be fingerprinted again in
order to obtain the report.
unofficial paper copy of an applicant's report will be maintained by 3M Cogent
for 30 days from their original mailing date. After 30 days, the copy
will no longer be accessible. An
applicant who does not recall having received the unofficial copy should
contact 3M Cogent within
30 days of their fingerprint date, before the storage limitation time has been
In some cases, a
classifiable fingerprint record cannot be obtained. Immediately upon indication, 3M Cogent will
take corrective action to notify the applicant of the need to re-print the
applicant at no cost to the applicant. This corrective action will be completed
at the earliest possible time that is convenient for the applicant. 3M Cogent
will contact the applicant directly via mail should a re-print be necessary.
NOTE: Reprinting can be applied to each applicant one time only.
If the applicant’s
fingerprints are unable to be transmitted electronically by 3M Cogent to the FBI
a second time, the applicant will be notified that a “name check” process will
be instituted. The name check is a manual review of records completed by the
FBI, with the results being sent to PDE. Upon receipt of name check results from the
FBI, PDE mails a letter
directly to the applicant. The letter
contains the applicant’s name check results and may be presented to schools in
lieu of the electronic report. This
process takes 4 – 6 weeks; please
allow ample time for fingerprinting.
PROCEDURES: CHRI ACCESS AND REVIEW
approved school entities will have access to review the official report of the
applicant online through a secure website (https://www.cogentresults.com/pde). Approved school entities are public schools
including school districts, intermediate units, Career and Technology Centers
and Charter Schools; and private schools including Approved Private Schools,
PRRIs, licensed private academic schools and non-public schools. Teacher Training Institutions (higher
education institutions) are also considered approved school entities to access
CHRI reports for prospective student teachers.
Each school entity
is provided with one general administrative login and password from
PDE. The user ID will
be the entity’s unique AUN number. Account information is issued via email to
the chief school administrator at each approved entity (e.g. Superintendent,
Director, CEO, etc.).
administrative login and password will allow each chief school administrator to
create “school viewer” logins and passwords so that school staff can have access
to the secure website. The school administrator is responsible for maintaining
the list of personnel who will have access to the system. Any changes to the
added user accounts will be managed by the administrative account. This includes adding additional school viewer
accounts, unlocking accounts and/or modifying the password, and deleting
accounts for staff who should no longer have access to FBI reports. (Link to the
website and access "Useful Links" in the sidebar for further
accounts are managed by PDE. PDE can assist school
entities, using the following functions:
- Add new administrative accounts
for new schools that have not yet registered with 3M Cogent. (NOTE: Access is only for schools.
See SCHOOL CONTRACTOR
Contractors and OTHER
section for others.)
- Provide the username and password
to school administrators if account information has been
- Unlock the account and reset the
password if necessary (due to 3 unsuccessful login attempts).
- Update the administrator name and
email address associated with the account/school.
- Delete the administrative account
when a school is closed.
To allow the school
to review an applicant’s CHRI report, the applicant must provide his or her
Registration ID (see 5. Report
Access in the APPLICANT
Applicants give permission for the school to review the report
electronically during the registration process. To access a record, the school
viewer will go to a secure website, specific to the online access of CHRI
reports for PDE: https://www.cogentresults.com/pde. At this screen, the
school viewer will log in with their personal username and password. The user
will then select “Check CHRI” from the menu; the next screen will ask for the
applicant’s Registration ID. After the number is entered, the CHRI report will
appear in a separate window for the user to review. The CHRI that is available
for review online constitutes the official record.
The administrator of
the school entity is required to review the CHRI to make a determination as to
the fitness of the applicant to work in a position in which they will have
contact with children. If the applicant is hired, the school administrator must
print out a copy and retain it in the employee’s file. If the applicant is not hired, the
administrator is prohibited from printing a copy and retaining it in a file.
Under no circumstances is the school authorized to give a copy of the CHRI
report to the applicant.
Access to the online review system
is limited to approved school entities and is not permitted for independent
contractors or other schools. School entities should work with their contractors
to establish a process for the contractor to provide the Registration ID to the
school, in order for the school to access the CHRI online. In the case of a
contractor’s employee, the school is to review the CHRI and transmit the fitness
determination to the contractor. If the applicant is hired by the school entity
or contractor, the school will make a copy of the CHRI for the employee’s file.
The school is prohibited from making a copy of the CHRI for the applicant. If
the contractor wishes to maintain their own file copy, it is suggested that
contractors require their employees or prospective employees to provide the
unofficial copy to the contractor.
Prospective student teachers are
to provide their Registration ID to the administrator of their educator
preparation program. Under Act 114, the
higher education administrator is required to review the CHRI and make the
determination of the fitness of the applicant to perform work that places the
individual in contact with children. If
the individual is approved for a field experience and student teaching, the
administrator is required under the Act to make a copy of the CHRI report and
maintain a file which includes that report throughout the individual’s
enrollment in the educator preparation program.
Contractors, including school
bus drivers and others who perform work for the school entity under contract,
and who are not school employees experienced a change in procedure under the
electronic process. Prior to
2008, all applicants
received an official hard copy to provide to their employer. The employer (contractor) maintained the file
copy. As of December 1,
2008, official paper
copies are no longer mailed. Results are
made available electronically for schools to review. Access to the database is not
permitted for independent contractors.
Public and private
schools will need a listing of their contractors’ prospective employees and
their Registration ID’s. Schools should work with their
contractors to establish a process for the contractor to provide the
Registration ID to the school. The schools will then be responsible for
going online to review the prospective employees’ CHRI records to make a
determination of the fitness of the individual to perform work that places the
individual in contact with children. The
law has required the school to make this fitness determination; this does not
reflect a policy change and does not change the status of the employee as an
employee of the contractor. The school administrator is to transmit that
fitness determination to the contractor. Once
hired, a copy of the contracted employees’ official CHRI is to be maintained by
the school. An official copy will not be
provided to the applicant or to the contractor. For contractors that wish to see
a copy, a suggested solution is that contractors require their employees
or prospective employees to provide the unofficial copy to the contractor. The paper copy will not be regarded as the official report;
but, it will provide an applicant with a copy of the information that the school
will see when the report is reviewed.
system contains only FBI Criminal History Record Information (CHRI) reports for
applicants who were fingerprinted through PDE under Act 114 of 2006. Effective April 1,
2007, the Act requires
that all employees and prospective employees of schools and their contractors as
well as student teacher candidates obtain the federal background check report
prior to employment in which they will have contact with children. Only Pennsylvania public and private
schools and higher education institutions with an approved teacher preparation
program will be authorized to access the reports in the secure online system.
agencies, such as daycare
facilities are not permitted to access the Department of Education’s online
system for their employees. These
agencies’ employees are required to obtain background check reports under the
Child Protective Services Law (CPSL).
This Act requires applicants to register and be fingerprinted under a
system administered by the Department of Human Services
(DHS) to obtain results
for their employers.
In some cases,
send employees into schools. These applicants may submit a
DHS report to a school
as an acceptable clearance so that an additional FBI clearance through
PDE is not required.
Although DHS contracts with 3M
Cogent to obtain the FBI fingerprint-based background check reports,
PDE may not access
reports in the DHS system, and
DHS may not access the
PDE online system. Please see the Q & A’s regarding
DHS report issues on
our website for more information on this topic.
It is important for
applicants to register and be fingerprinted under the system where the applicant
will be employed (DHS or
PDE). In order to avoid confusion and the need to
register and be fingerprinted a second time, applicants should check with their
prospective employer prior to registering and being fingerprinted. Further
questions on DHS requirements should
be addressed to the DHS office, reachable
by phone at 717-783-6211.
Entities such as Alternative Education for Disruptive Youth
(AEDY) providers, tutoring agencies, and staffing agencies are considered
independent contractors and are not permitted to access the official reports
online. Applicants to these entities
will provide their Registration ID to their prospective employer. The agency is then responsible to provide the
applicant’s Registration ID and other reports to the school entity that is
contracting for the services. The school
entity associated with the services will review the official CHRI through the
online database to make a determination as to the fitness of the applicant to
work in a position in which they will have contact with children.
Behavioral Health agencies, and other child care facilities, please
review the Q & A’s on our website regarding PDE and
DHS report issues for
guidance and clarification on procedures.
education institutions with an approved teacher preparation program will be
granted access to reports. Other
post-secondary programs that do not train educators through a field
experience/student teaching program are not provided access to the online
system. Applicants within a higher
education facility that fall under Act 114 are student teachers or others in
educator preparation programs. All other
applicants in a college or
university that need to obtain fingerprinting (such as nursing students completing clinical
rotations) must apply through the DHS system under the
requirements of the CPSL.
facilities do not directly
access their applicant’s report online.
Applicants for a nurse-aide training program who are required by
PDE to obtain
fingerprinting must be approved directly through PDE’s Bureau of Career
and Technical Education, Division of Adult and Postsecondary. Further information about this program is
available in the Nurse
Aide Training Program Eligibility (PDF).
The Act permits, but
does not require school entities to employ applicants on a provisional basis for
a single period not to exceed ninety (90) days, except during a lawful strike
proceeding under the provisions of the act of July 23, 1970, known as the
“Public Employee Relations Act”, provided that all of the following conditions
- The applicant has applied for the
information required under subsection (b) and where applicable, under subsection
(c) or (c.1) and the applicant provides a copy of the appropriate completed
request forms to the Administrator.
- The Administrator has no knowledge
of information pertaining to the applicant which would disqualify them from
employment pursuant to subsection (e)
- The applicant swears or affirms in
writing that they are not disqualified from employment pursuant to subsection
- If the information obtained
pursuant to subsection (b), (c), or (c1) reveals that the applicant is
disqualified from employment pursuant to subsection (e), the applicant shall be
suspended and subject to termination proceedings as provided for by
- The Administrator requires that
the applicant not be permitted to work alone with children and that the
applicant work in the vicinity of a permanent
If you have a
requirement to fingerprint a large group of applicants (300 college education
majors, a contractor’s entire staff of 120 employees, 50 bus drivers, etc.) 3M
Cogent and the fixed site providers will try to accommodate that request. Some
fingerprint service sites have the ability to bring portable equipment to your
site. If you are in need of Group Fingerprinting Support, visit www.pa.cogentid.com. Service sites in your area that
have mobile equipment will be listed.
NOTE: This mobile
service requires the visited site to provide broadband internet access and
access through any firewall. The sites that offer mobile services can provide
you instructions, in advance of their visit, that would allow fingerprinting to
occur at your site. You must however, plan ahead. Requirements for hosting a
mobile Livescan operation can be found at www.pa.cogentid.com.
We encourage you to utilize this
service but you must plan ahead. Please do not overwhelm the service by sending
large groups of applicants to fixed site locations. If you must send a large
group of applicants to a fixed site, please plan for their arrival to occur over
days and weeks, not over hours.
(SECURITY) OF APPLICANT INFORMATION
On-site access to
the Livescan equipment, and the data traveling from the equipment, is
comprehensively secured and regulated by both 3M Cogent and the regulations
governing the use of that data.
Security – The computer
system is housed within a secured network that is protected by firewall devices
configured explicitly to allow only permissible protocols and traffic. 3M Cogent
ensures that all devices procured under this process continue to adhere to the
Commonwealth’s Security requirements. Systems are configured to provide a point
of defense with controlled access from both inside and outside the network.
Livescan systems are configured to support logging and audit capability.
Furthermore, the Livescan solution will support 128 bit
regarding fingerprinting locations and the process for obtaining an FBI
fingerprint based background check report may be found at www.pa.cogentid.com.