Within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, all public school employees, including teachers, custodians, bus drivers and others working in the proximity of children, must comply with background checks set forth in the Public School Code and are required to disclose “General Background Information” related to criminal history. When completing these forms for the first time, it is important to note that such disclosure can prevent a meaningful opportunity for certification and employment. These comprehensive reviews are required for any potential employees who will have direct contact with children and applies equally to new teachers as well as veteran employees.
Governed by the Public School Code of 1949, Act 168 of 2014 amended the guidelines public school employees must follow and required school employers to conduct new and more comprehensive background checks on those who will have direct contact with children. This includes the mandatory completion of Sexual Misconduct/Abuse Disclosure forms before any applicant will be hired for such a position. Further the law expanded the list of offenses, which result in a lifetime employment ban as well as created a tiered system of ten-year, five-year, and three-year employment bans for certain other criminal offenses. Although answering “yes” on these forms does not necessarily bar employment, it can negatively impact one’s career.
In addition to the requirements set forth in the Public School Code, there are two other disclosure requirements faced by individuals who want to become a public school teachers in Pennsylvania. They must submit a form titled “Standard Application for Teaching Positions in Pennsylvania Public Schools” and register online with the Pennsylvania Department of Education Teacher Information Management System (“TIMS”). In both cases, there are questions related to criminal history and applicants should be aware such disclosure may prevent certification and employment. Upon completion of the forms and applications, all answers are verified with police records, including a review of one’s Pennsylvania State Police Criminal History Record and Federal Criminal Record.
If you believe that you are under investigation, have been subpoenaed before a grand jury or arrested and charged with a crime, contact Neff & Sedacca, PC for a confidential consultation by phone at (215) 563-9800 or email at info@NeffSedacca.com.