School Employee and Teacher Clearances: Your Ultimate Guide

Your Guide to Understanding School Employee and Teacher Clearances

If your work requires you to step foot in a school then you probably need teacher clearances.

It's important to understand the implications of these laws if you are considering a paid or volunteer position in any kind of educational setting.

Understanding Teacher Clearances for Anyone Working in an Educational Setting

Privately run schools have their own set of regulations. The information below applies only to people working at public schools and institutions.

Who Needs Clearance?

Anyone employed by a public school district needs "teacher" clearances which entail a detailed background check (State of Pennsylvania, 1949). There's a good chance you'll still need clearance for "teachers" in PA even if you aren't employed directly by the state district.

As a general rule, anyone who either cares for children directly or regularly interacts with children (anyone under 18) needs to obtain clearance documents (Keep Kids Safe, n.d.). This includes both paid and volunteering positions including

  • Parent chaperones
  • Tutors
  • Security
  • Cafeteria workers
  • Librarians
  • Bus drivers
  • Coaches
  • All school-sponsored activities

Schools often fall short when it comes to volunteers or even contracted employees like bus drivers. Audit reports from Lancaster (DePasquale, 2018) and Penn Hills (DePasquale, 2016) school districts determined that the schools had employed bus drivers that did not meet employment requirements or had disqualifying criminal convictions.

Even with a prior scandal on its hands, a 2017 audit report (DePasquale, 2017) showed that Pennsylvania State University did not complete adequate background checks for youth camp employees.

The state of Pennsylvania is cracking down on contracted workers like bus drivers – clearance through the company alone is not enough.

What Do School Employee, Volunteer, or Teacher Clearances Entail?

If you work in a school and come into direct contact with students, state law requires the specific clearances for teachers in PA below.

·         A criminal history report from the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP)

·         A Child Abuse History Clearance from the Department of Human Services (DHS) for Employment or Volunteers

·         A federal background check via fingerprinting from the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI)

ChildLine and Mandated Reporters for Monitoring Abuse

ChildLine is a streamlined reporting system for child abuse operating 24/7. Over 75% of the calls and e-submissions that come through ChildLine come from individuals known as mandated reporters (PA Family, n.d.).

If you work in a hands-on environment with children, you're likely a mandated reporter. As mandated reporters, teachers, coaches, scout leaders, librarians, and anyone working for a school-sponsored activity has a legal duty to report potential child abuse if they see anything suspicious.

This heavy responsibility makes it crucial for anyone working near children to hold clearances for teachers in PA.

Clearances for Teachers in PA: The Bottom Line

As schools hire more privately contracted workers, this process becomes even more cumbersome. Unfortunately, employees often fall through the cracks which leaves students and staff vulnerable while putting schools at risk for lawsuits from parents or the state.

Application Verification's ProVerify™ Scholastic Screening Management System offers customized screening to help schools and institutions ensure their employees consistently meet state teacher clearances.

 

References

State of Pennsylvania (1949), Public School Code of 1949, retrieved from

http://www.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/LI/LI/US/HTM/1949/0/0014..HTM

Keep Kids Safe, Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS), n.d. School employees governed by the public school code: frequently asked questions, retrieved from

http://keepkidssafe.pa.gov/cs/groups/webcontent/documents/document/c_135248.pdf

Eugene A. DePasquale (2017), Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of the Auditor General, Pennsylvania State University Performance Audit Report, retrieved from

file:///home/chronos/u-9a111da0e8533df2b442e9d0c6f95a95dde24229/Downloads/PSU-performance-audit-highlights.pdf

Eugene A. DePasquale (2016), Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of the Auditor General, Penn Hills School District Audit Report, retrieved from

file:///home/chronos/u-9a111da0e8533df2b442e9d0c6f95a95dde24229/Downloads/Penn-Hills-Perf-audit.pdf

Eugene A. DePasquale (2018), Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of the Auditor General, School District of Lancaster Audit Report, retrieved from

file:///home/chronos/u-9a111da0e8533df2b442e9d0c6f95a95dde24229/Downloads/Lancaster-Perf-Audit.pdf

PA Family Support Alliance, n.d. Who are Mandated Reporters? Retrieved from

http://www.pa-fsa.org/Mandated-Reporters/Understanding-Mandated-Reporting/Who-are-Mandated-Reporters