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Good Moral Character Review

The Department of Education is required by law to only issue Pennsylvania certificates to applicants who possess good moral character. (24 P.S. § 1209, 22 Pa. Code § 49.12.) The good moral character requirement applies to all applicants.

Good moral character reviews are required when an applicant answers yes to one or more of the background questions listed in the Teacher Information Management System (TIMS) application but may also be initiated based upon independent information.

Background Questions:

  1.  Have you ever been the subject of a child abuse investigation or reported in this or any other state, territory or country? (Possible answers: Yes-Unfounded, Yes-Indicated, Yes-Founded, No)
  2. Are you currently the subject of any misconduct investigation by an employer? (Possible answers: Yes or No)
  3. Have you ever resigned from or otherwise left employment (e.g., settlement or agreement) while allegations of misconduct were pending or under investigation? (Possible answers: Yes or No)
  4. Are you currently the subject of a disciplinary complaint or investigation or is there disciplinary action pending by a licensing agency in this or any other state territory, or country? (Possible answers: Yes or No)
  5. Have you ever had any certificate or license for any profession denied, revoked, suspended, surrendered or received a public reprimand in this or any other state, territory or country? (Possible answers: Yes or No)
  6. Have you ever been convicted of a crime classified as a misdemeanor or felony in this state or any other state, territory or country? (For purpose of this questions, convicted includes please. However, summary offenses do not need to be acknowledged.) (Possible answers: Yes or No)
  7. Are criminal charges pending against you, or are you the subject of any inquiry or investigation by a law enforcement agency in this or any other state, territory or country? (Possible answers: Yes or No)

Screen Shot of Background Questions 

All applicants reviewed for good moral character may be asked to submit some or all of the following information:

  • A signed letter or statement of explanation
  •  A current resume
  • Documentation related to any discipline imposed
  • Certified court documents of a criminal matter, if applicable
  • A current and original FBI clearance
  • A current and original PA criminal background check
  • A current and original PA child abuse clearance
  • Five letters of reference (three of which must be professional)
  • A letter from a probation/parole officer, if applicable.

This information is reviewed by the Deputy Secretary for the Office of Post-Secondary and Higher Education. The Deputy Secretary makes the good moral character determination after considering the following:

  • Nature of the conduct
  • Applicant's attitude towards the conduct
  • Applicant's rehabilitative efforts

Please understand that there is a strong presumption that the applicant currently lacks good moral character to receive a Pennsylvania certificate if they committed a crime resulting in placement in an accelerated rehabilitative disposition (ARD) program or who have been convicted of a crime resulting in probation or parole and have not yet fully completed ARD, probation or parole. An applicant may appeal to the Secretary of Education if denied certification. (See Certification Appeal Process)