How the Pennsylvania Department of Education Handles Teacher Background Checks
Under Pennsylvania law, individuals who will interact with children during the course of their profession will be required to undergo a criminal history background check. Teachers, student teachers, and even substitute teachers must undergo and pass a thorough review of their criminal history before they can be employed by a school in the state of Pennsylvania.
These individuals must provide the following to the PA Department of Education:
- Pennsylvania State Police Request for Criminal Records Check
- Department of Human Services Child Abuse History Clearance
- Federal Criminal History Record Information
Of the three clearances required of individuals before they can be licensed and hired as teachers, the records provided by the Pennsylvania State Police may be the most likely to hold evidence that you didn't realize could pose a serious threat to your teaching career.
The PA State Police holds records of more than just criminal convictions. In addition to displaying evidence of crimes for which you've been convicted, these records can also show if you've been arrested and charged, even when the charges were later dropped. Mistakes happen, and most individuals deserve a second chance after lapses in judgment that occurred many years ago or even when they themselves were just kids. If this sounds familiar and you're wondering how you may be able to overcome your criminal record, then you should contact a Pennsylvania attorney who can tell you if your criminal record is eligible for expungement.
What is Expungement?
In Pennsylvania, expungement means the removal of information that demonstrates you were charged with, or convicted of, an offense. All identifying information will be eliminated from your record, and accordingly, it will not appear in a state police request for a records check.
Importantly, the PA Department of Education does not require employees to report criminal records that have been legally expunged. If you are pursuing a teaching career and you have a criminal record that's eligible for expungement, then you should consider petitioning for an expungement of your records.
Expungement Options for PA Teachers
There are a variety of expungement options available to would-be teachers looking to move on from their past. Expungements are, in fact, a tool designed to allow individuals to overcome mistakes they made when they were younger. In addition, they're designed for those who should have never been charged or arrested in the first place. It's unfair that citizens may have a criminal record even when the prosecutor had insufficient evidence to convict them.
Whether you're someone who's hoping to move forward from the mistakes you made when you were younger, or you're someone who was arrested and charged but never convicted, you deserve to clear your criminal record. With the help of an experienced PA expungement attorney, you'll be able to more efficiently navigate the expungement process.
The eligibility of your expungement will depend on numerous factors, including:
- The type of offense you were charged with
- Whether or not you were convicted
- How much time has passed since your last arrest
- If you were a juvenile at the time of your conviction
Expunging Summary Convictions in PA
A summary conviction is a minor offense such as public intoxication, harassment, or disorderly conduct. If you were convicted for a summary offense, then you can petition for the erasure of the record if at least 5 years have passed since the conviction and you haven't been subsequently charged with any new offense.
Expunging Records After Completing Rehabilitative and Diversion Programs
The Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program in Pennsylvania allows for some who've been charged with their first DUI offense, or their only DUI offense within 10 years, or less serious criminal offenses, to enter into a pre-trial diversionary program. Those who successfully complete the ARD program will be spared of a related conviction, and they are able to later petition for the record of those charges to be expunged.
Similarly, under Pennsylvania's Drug Diversion program, known as “Section 17,” those who've been charged with certain minor drug offenses may see their charges dismissed if they successfully complete the program. Even when drug charges are dismissed, they may still appear on your criminal record. Section 17 expungements allow those records to be destroyed.
Expunging Your Juvenile Record
Most people make errors in judgment during their teen years. Sometimes those errors result in a criminal record, and unfortunately, even when you've matured, the crimes you were convicted of years ago can still haunt your career aspirations.
For those who are over the age of 18, and who have not committed any crime for at least 5 years from the date of the juvenile conviction, an expungement is an option.
The Expungement Process in PA
Not all criminal records are eligible for expungement, but an experienced attorney can help you determine if your criminal record can be expunged. Once you determine that your record is eligible for expungement, you'll need to petition the court or courts having jurisdiction over your records and await a determination. The judge may approve the Expungement Petition or require additional evidence be provided during a hearing. Once approved, the Court Clerk will issue a formal notice to applicable agencies so they may go ahead and clear your record.
Finding an Expungement Attorney to Help You
If you plan to become a teacher in PA, but you worry that a criminal record from your past may become a roadblock in the pursuit of your passions, then you should contact an attorney with experience preparing expungement petitions.
Joseph D. Lento understands the stakes in obtaining an expungement of eligible criminal records. Attorney Lento knows that individuals make mistakes and that they deserve a second chance without the cloud of those lapses in judgment hanging over them and their careers for the rest of their lives. Attorney Lento tirelessly guides clients through the tedious and stressful process of preparing and filing Petitions for Expungement and navigating the court process. To learn how the Lento Law Firm can help you, call 888-535-3686 today.