The purpose of
this site is to provide procedural information for applicants on obtaining
criminal and child abuse history clearances and to offer school administrators
guidance on frequently asked questions regarding related laws and regulations. We
recommend that administrators familiarize themselves with 24 P.S. §1-111, as amended, and the Child Protective Services Law concerning
background checks in order to better understand these requirements.
Additional information, including
procedures for obtaining the employment clearances listed below, may be
accessed via the hyperlinks listed in the right menu.
Employee Background Checks
Pennsylvania School Law
requires that all applicants for employment in
public and private schools, employees of independent contractors seeking
business with public and private schools, and student teacher candidates undergo
background checks if they will have direct contact with students. The following
three background checks are required:
- Department of Human
Services Child Abuse History Clearance
- Pennsylvania State
Police Request for Criminal Records Check
- Federal Criminal History
Record Information (CHRI)
School Volunteer Background Checks
Under Pennsylvania's Child Protective
Services Law, school volunteers who are responsible for the child's welfare or
who have "direct volunteer contact" with children at a school (i.e., the care,
supervision, guidance, or control of children and routine interaction with
children) are required to have background checks.
Act 4: Impact on Background Check Renewal Period &
On Feb. 16, 2016, Governor Tom Wolf signed into law Act
4, which included important amendments to Section 111 of the School Code
concerning background checks.
Prior to Act 4 of 2016, background checks more than 12 months
old could not be used for prospective school staff and service providers;
however, Act 153 of 2015 amending the Child Protective Services Law (CPSL) required
Section 111 checks be renewed every 60 months. The passing of Act 4 aligns the
School Code with the new CPSL requirement and permits any of the three required
background checks to be used by potential applicants for up to 5 years (i.e.,
Currently, background check results are stored in the 3M
Cogent online system for 1 year. Until a system retaining 5 years of data is in
place, school administrators are permitted to accept applicants' paper copies
of Criminal History Record Information (CHRI) reports that are between 1 and 5
Preferably, the paper copy should be the unofficial
CHRI report on Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) letterhead provided
to the applicant by 3M Cogent at the time of clearance. Applicants who have not
retained their unofficial paper copies from 3M Cogent may request copies of
their CHRI reports from their current employers to supply to prospective
employers. For applicants required to obtain FBI 'name checks' due to their
inability to register readable finger prints, copies of the reports issued on
PDE letterhead and disclosing the results of the name checks should be used.
In addition to the unofficial CHRI report, an
applicant must complete and submit to a prospective employer the PDE Form 6004 (PDF), required by Section 111(j)(1) of the School Code,
indicating that the applicant has not been disqualified from employment.
Act 168: Employment
As of December 22,
2014, a school entity or an independent contractor may not hire any applicant
for a position in which the employee will have direct contact with children
until the school entity has complied with the employment history review process
delineated in Act 168 of 2014 (24 P.S. § 1-111.1). Guidance on the procedures and forms for the
employment history review may be found in the Act
168 Basic Education Circular (PDF).
Act 82: Court Decisions on
Lifetime Bans on Employment for Certain Criminal Convictions
On December 13,
2012, Commonwealth Court issued opinions in three cases, each of which held
that the lifetime ban on employing individuals convicted of certain crimes
listed in the Pennsylvania School Code (24 P.S. § 1-111(e)) violated the
Pennsylvania Constitution as applied to the individual plaintiffs involved. As
there are several important impacts on school employers, PDE issued the Act 82 Guidance on Lifetime Bans (PDF) to school administrators
concerning their continuing obligations under Section 111(e) of the School Code
in light of these cases.
Act 24: Reporting Arrests & Convictions
Act 24 of 2011 contains a number of significant changes to the Pennsylvania
Public School Code that are designed to enhance the safety of school children.
Among the changes, Act 24 amends Section 111 of the School Code to expand the
list of prohibitive criminal offenses and ensure that then-current school
employees who may not have been subject to a previous background check were
required to provide assurances that they had not been previously arrested or
convicted of a Section 111(e) offense.
24 requires that all school employees complete and return
to their school administrator a PDE Form 6004 (PDF) within 72
hours of any arrest or conviction of an offense listed in Section 111(e). If an
employee refuses to submit the form, Act 24 requires that the School
Administrator submit the employee to a new background check under Section
For additional information, contact the Pennsylvania
Department of Education School Services Office at 717-783-3750 (phone) or firstname.lastname@example.org.