"Clarification of Clearances for SES Tutors"
02/17/10 Clarification of Clearances for SES Tutors Act 114 of 2006, 24 PS 1-111 as amended specifies that all applicants for employment with public and private schools including employees of independent contractors, but excluding employees who do not have direct contact with students undergo background checks. As of April 1, 2007, the following three background checks are required: 1. Pennsylvania State Police Request for Criminal Records Check (Act 34). Applies to individuals hired as of January 1, 1986. 2. Department of Public Welfare Child Abuse History Clearance (Act 151) 3. Federal Criminal History Record Information (CHRI) in a manner prescribed by the Department of Education. Act 114 of 2006, 24 PS 1-111 as amended can be found at the following site: http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/background_checks_(act_114)/7493/ac t_114_of_2006,_24_ps_1-111,_background_checks/601417 The Department has received questions concerning clearances for SES providers. This document is intended to clarify how Act 114 applies to the SES program. Who requires clearances: Section 111 applies to SES providers in that they are contractors of school districts, or other public schools (eg: Charter Schools) or private schools that are covered by the law, and SES providers are also subject to requirements developed pursuant to federal law. The No Child Left Behind Act requires the Department to establish criteria for the approval of providers. These criteria always have included criminal background checks and child abuse clearances. Starting with the 2009-10 school years and beyond, FBI criminal history background checks will also be required. Obtaining clearances: The processes for obtaining each clearance can be found at: http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/background_checks_(act_114)/7493 How often clearances need to be updated: Clearances for employees of LEAs (including charter schools and AVTS) and for state licensed Private Academic Schools: LEAs and state licensed Private Academic Schools are required by law to ensure that all personnel who may have direct contact with students have submitted the required background check reports and the school administrator has reviewed those reports prior to working in a position in which they will have direct contact with children. Therefore, providers in this category are not required to send clearance information about their SES tutors to the Division of Federal Programs (DFP) for approval. However, these providers are still required to obtain clearances as required by state law for their employees in this type of situation. In this case, the LEA will provide a letter to DFP from the superintendent or CEO verifying all employees working with the SES program have the required clearances and list the appropriate employees by name. This letter must be available upon request during monitoring visits. 1 02/17/10 Clearances for SES providers that are not LEAs or state licensed Private Academic Schools: All employees who may have direct contact with students must have clearances approved by DFP. New employees are required to send original Child Abuse and State Police Background Check reports to DFP for approval. The FBI background check reports are to be reviewed by the school district or charter school that is contracting for the SES services. The school district or charter school is to review the FBI reports through PDE’s online review system, which enables the school district or charter school to review the original report online. If an employee has been continuously employed by the provider since having clearances approved, they are not required to apply for new clearances providing the provider sends proof of continuous employment to PDE. This option also requires that the tutor has been working continuously with the same school district or charter school since having clearances approved. Whenever a tutor starts work with a different school district, new clearances must be provided. Examples of proof of continuous employment are copies of W2 forms, a spreadsheet of the company’s payroll information, or cancelled checks. Out-of-state applicants: All fingerprints must be taken at a Cogent Pennsylvania site. It is recommended that applicants arrange to have fingerprints taken in PA during the job interview. Submitting Clearances: The original copy of the criminal background check and child abuse clearances must be sent to IU 4 which DFP contracts with to maintain the list of approved tutors. The address is: SES Clearances c/o Midwestern IU 4 453 Maple Street Grove City, PA 16127-2399 The original background check reports are also to be reviewed by the school district or charter school that is contracting for service with the individual tutor. FBI clearance is checked by the school district the tutor will be working with. Once the Child Abuse and State Police Background Check clearances have been received and no history of disallowed criminal activity is found, PDE will place the tutor’s name on the state approved tutor list. For tutors who do not require new background check reports based on the previously mentioned circumstances, the superintendent or CEO of the provider will send a letter to PDE stating that the tutor meets all of the clearance requirements. Provisional Contracting: Section 1-111 of the School Code permits the administrator of a school district to hire employees on a provisional basis for a period of ninety days while the required background check reports are pending. In the case of an SES program, offering this accommodation will not be feasible in most instances because the school administrator who seeks to hire a provisional employee must agree to several conditions, which are set forth in section 111, before the 90- day grace period can be implemented. The required conditions are found at this site: 2 02/17/10 http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/background_checks_(act_114)/7493/fe deral_criminal_history_background_checks/601327 PDE requires that the applicant not be permitted to work alone with children and that the applicant work in the immediate vicinity of an employee with approved clearances. Hiring new tutors: Tutors may not work with children until the provider has received the appropriate clearances (unless the above provisional requirements are followed) and submitted them to PDE. No tutor will be allowed to work directly with students until they are on the state approved tutor list. They are also required to have their FBI clearance checked by the district if they are not an employee of an LEA or state licensed private school. Crimes that prohibit a tutor from working in an SES program in Pennsylvania: The ultimate purpose of these requirements is to ensure the protection, safety, and welfare of the students enrolled in SES programs across the Commonwealth. Although Section 111 lists convictions of certain criminal offenses that, if indicated on the report to have occurred within the preceding five years, would prohibit the individual from being hired, there are other serious crimes that the PDE will consider, on a discretionary case-by-case basis, in determining a prospective employee’s fitness to work in a position in which they will have direct contact with children. Such crimes would include those listed in Section 111 but which were committed prior to the five-year look-back period, as well as other crimes of a serious nature that are not on the list at all but involve “moral turpitude”, as defined in Chapter 237, Title 22 of the Pennsylvania Code of Professional Practice and Conduct for Educators. Crimes that the Professional Standards and Practices Commission previously has concluded meet the definition of moral turpitude include, but are not limited to: Burglary; Defrauding Public Welfare; Theft by Deception; Mail Fraud; False Imprisonment; Altering Military Records; Receiving Stolen Property; and Money Laundering. Generally, crimes that involve deception, lying or fraud are considered universally to be crimes involving moral turpitude. After acknowledging receipt of the clearance in question, the Chief of the Division of Federal Programs will review the reports and make a determination concerning the fitness of the individual to work in a position in which they will have direct contact with students within thirty (30) days of the receipt of any and requested supporting documentation. Further information: Terri Proctor Karl Streckewald SES Program Administrator SES Program Manager firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com 3