Can FBI criminal history
certifications obtained through the Department of Human Services be accepted by
schools for employment purposes?
Yes. The Department
of Human Services (DHS) reviews the results of the FBI fingerprint record check
and sends the applicant a letter that indicates the result of the review and
whether or not the applicant is eligible for a position that involves direct
contact with children under the Child Protective Services Law (CPSL). The
report will be on DHS letterhead and will be from the Office of Children, Youth
and Families. The letter will indicate
- No record exists
- Record exists, but conviction(s) does not prohibit hiring in a child care position according to the Child Protective Services Law.
- Record exists, but no conviction(s) is shown. This does not prohibit hiring in a child care position according to the Child Protective Services Law.
- Disqualification – record exists and contains a conviction(s) that is grounds for denying employment in a childcare position according to the Child Protective Services Law.
DHS notification will also include a copy of the applicant’s
criminal history information except when no record exists.
DHS letters that indicate that there was no record can be
accepted by schools.
The DHS letter must be provided by the applicant to the
school administrator. If an applicant
presents a DHS letter that indicates a record exists or a disqualification,
school administrators should review the criminal history information carefully
to make a fitness determination as to whether the person should be in and
employment or contractor position that involves direct contact with children
under the School Code.
Are the list of reportable/prohibitive
offenses in the PA School Code and CPSL the same?
No they are not.
Schools should seek guidance from their solicitor concerning
comparisons of the reportable/prohibitive offenses in the School Code and the
Can a child abuse history certification or PSP criminal
history certification obtained for volunteer activities be used for employment
No. Child abuse history certifications and PSP criminal
history certifications obtained for volunteer purposes can only be used for
other volunteer activities. Child abuse history certifications obtained for
volunteer purposes will indicate that the certification is to be used for
volunteer purposes only.
Can a school print out an FBI criminal history record to
give to an applicant if an applicant requests a copy?
Yes. The FBI has stated that it has no objection
to officials providing a copy of the applicant’s FBI criminal history record to
the applicant. PDE recommends that the
school indicate on the report that it is a copy provided by the school to the
applicant. For audit purposes, the
Pennsylvania State Police requires that schools maintain a list of who was
given a copy, the date it was provided, and the individual’s Cogent
Will Cogent still
mail an unofficial copy of the background check to individuals?
Yes. This is a requirement of the Commonwealth’s contract
with Cogent. If applicants have not received their copy in the mail within two
weeks of being fingerprinted, they should contact Cogent at 888-439-2486. Although schools have access to the
electronic copy of individual reports for 1 year, Cogent only has access to the
electronic report for 30 days.
Are name check
letters also good for five years?
Yes. Just as with the
criminal history reports, name checks are also good for five years. The name check letters from PDE now state
that the letter is good for five years.
Versions of the letter that state that it is valid for 1 year from the
date of the letter may still be used and accepted for up to five years of the
date of the letter.
What if our local
school board policies do not currently reflect the recent changes to the CPSL
and School Code that permit the portability of background checks?
PDE recommends that school districts align their local
policies concerning background checks for employees and contractors with the
provisions of the PA School Code and the CPSL.
Who should schools
contact if they have questions?