University of Pittsburgh School of Education
 

Federal and State Criminal Clearances

Federal and State Background Checks and Clearances

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), anyone working with or observing children in public and private schools, IUs, and vocational-technical schools are required to provide proof of the following clearances:

  • Federal Criminal History Record
  • Pennsylvania State Criminal Record Check
  • Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance

If these clearances are not turned in by the end of the add/drop period in the term of registration, the student must drop any class requiring school visits. Furthermore, if there is a criminal infraction on any of these clearances, school placement for the school is unlikely, which will require the student to withdraw from the class. Decisions about permitting students to observe or do other tasks in a school are made by the school district and the principal. The University cannot guarantee that a person with entries in their criminal record will be permitted to do assignments in a school. While State law bars certain offenders from schools, districts often impose more extreme requirements. Students who have entries in their records should consult the Coordinator of Clinical Practice on whether a placement will be likely.

Note that this regulation applies to University Supervisors working with pre-service teachers and to researchers who are working in classrooms with teachers and students.

Each pre-service teacher, supervisor, or researcher working in a school must obtain:

Plan to obtain your clearances at least 2 months prior to needing them for clinical or work experiences. You should always retain the original clearances and provide copies to the university and any school in which you are working.

Federal Criminal History Record

Fee: $24.25

  • Applicants must get fingerprinted for an FBI background check.
  • Applicants should register online with Cogent Systems (www.pa.cogentid.com) or by calling 1-800-439-2486 prior to going to the fingerprinting center. Payment is made online at the time of registration by credit or debit card, or at the fingerprinting site by money order or cashier's check made payable to Cogent Systems. No cash or personal checks are accepted. Please record your PAE registration number - it is a series of letters and numbers - you will need to provide this number to any school district, institution, or agency needing the results of your federal background check.
  • The applicant then reports to one of the approved fingerprint centers. Find a fingerprinting center location near you.
  • The fingerprints are scanned; the entire fingerprint capture process takes approximately 10 minutes.
  • The prints are then electronically transmitted to the PA State Police, who then submits the fingerprints and demographic information to the FBI as required by federal statute.
  • Pennsylvania Department of Education will receive the Federal Criminal History Report from the FBI. You will receive an unofficial copy by mail.
  • After you have been fingerprinted, you should provide any school district, institution, or agency which needs access to the results of your federal clearance with your registration number. They will access a secure database at PDE to view your results using their institution's username and password. They may not provide you with copies of this information. They should be able to access your clearance information within a week of fingerprint processing.
  • If you have a question or an issue with your federal clearance, call 717.783.3750 or email the Pennsylvania Department of Education at dwolfgang@state.pa.us. Neither Cogent Systems, nor the School of Education can provide the status or results of your report to you.

Further details regarding fingerprinting can be found on the Cogent Systems web site or the Pennsylvania Department of Education web site

NOTE: The Regulation allows an applicant to enter into a school for a single period not to exceed 90 days, except during a lawful strike, provided that all the following conditions are met:

  • The applicant has applied for the background checks and can provide appropriate documentation
  • The administrator has no knowledge about the applicant that would disqualify the applicant from employment
  • The applicant affirms in writing that they are not disqualified from employment
  • If the information revealed in the background check reveals the applicant is disqualified, the applicant will be subjected to termination
  • The administrator requires that the applicant not be permitted to work alone with children and does work in the vicinity of a permanent employee.

Pennsylvania State Criminal Record Check (Act 34)

Fee: $8.00

ONLINE APPLICATION FOR PENNSYLVANIA RESIDENTS:

  • This clearance may be obtained on-line if the applicant has a credit or debit card at https://epatch.state.pa.us
  • The on-line response is virtually instantaneous ­ the applicant prints the report from their computer. The mailed request can take up to 4 to 5 weeks for processing and will be mailed directly to the applicant.

APPLICATION FOR OUT OF STATE RESIDENTS or PA RESIDENTS WHO CHOOSE TO APPLY BY MAIL:


Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance (Act 33/151)

Fee: $10.00

ONLINE APPLICATION:

  • Create an account and Apply online
  • When filling out the form, use your current address, and the check the "School" option under "Purpose of Clearance".
  • Your results may be available immediately. If not, you can log in at a later time to view the status of your results. The process can take up to 4 to 5 weeks for processing, and you will be mailed a copy of your results. You may call the Office of Children Youth and Families at 717.783.6211 or 717.783.6211 if problems arise.
APPLY BY MAIL:
  • Download, fill-out, sign, and mail in the Child Abuse Clearance form along with your non-refundable fee. Be sure to use your current home address on the form, and complete all fields to the best of your knowledge.