Pennsylvania teachers must report DUI and other offenses

Filed under: Criminal Law, DUI by Contributor @ July 17, 2012

If you are a teacher at any Pennsylvania school (K-12), an amendment passed to the Pennsylvania School Code may have a significant effect on your employment – if you have been convicted of a misdemeanor of the first degree, a felony, or have driving under the influence convictions. The amendment concerns criminal background checks that are required by the School Code, specifically section 1-111.

In addition to the enumerated offenses found in section 1-111(e)(1), primarily geared at protecting the safety of children, the new law also includes three additional sections that cover conviction of felony offenses as well as any first degree misdemeanor offense. The other section, dealing with DUI offenses, reads:

(3) If the report of criminal history record information indicates the person has been convicted more than once for an offense under 75 Pa.C.S. § 3802(a), (b), (c) or (d)(relating to driving under influence of alcohol or controlled substance) and the offense is graded as a misdemeanor of the first degree under 75 Pa.C.S. § 3803 (relating to grading), the person shall be eligible for prospective employment only if a period of three years has elapsed from the date of expiration of the sentence for the most recent offense.

For a felony conviction, a prospective employee is eligible for a position in a school only after ten years have elapsed from the date of expiration of the sentence for the offense. For misdemeanors of the first degree, the period for eligibility is five years. For a DUI offense other than a first degree misdemeanor, eligibility is three years.

Current employees who have been convicted of one of the enumerated offenses or fall into the category of one of the catch-all provisions must disclose this to the school. Depending on what the offense is, failing to disclose the new offenses may result in dismissal and even criminal and civil penalties.

If you are a teacher or will be entering the field and you are confused as to how a conviction will affect your ability to be hired, call our office immediately for a consultation and further assistance in knowing your rights and getting hired.

18 comments:

  1. John Smith says:

    28 year old daughter convicted of first offense DUI earlier this year. Entered and completed ADR program. On six month probation until around January/February. Considering going to school to earn her teaching certification. What is the impact of the DUI on teaching in pa? Thanks

  2. Don’t say she was convicted since if she successfully completed ARD she was only arrested and never convicted. She should apply for expungement, which is part of the reason that someone enters the ARD program, and that will remove her record from everywhere but her PennDOT record, where is remains for 10 years before being automatically purged. That said, no one can give her a clean bill of health for the future as programs and standards can change at any time. I am aware of people with prior ARD completion getting teaching jobs, but the legislature could change that at any time. For what it’s worth, if teaching is her passion I think she should go for it, but she has to know there is a risk of not being hired in the future.

  3. Christine says:

    At the age of 19 I had two d.u.i’s, I am turning 28 this year and going to school for early education. Will I be able to get a teaching license in Pennsylvania?

  4. The answer is maybe. The grading of the DUI’s is important. Please email me privately with the grading and whether you got ARD or were convicted, along with specifying any other charges that were involved and the disposition. Do you have that information?

  5. Jessica says:

    If I had gotten a DUI as a minor (age 17) and successfully completed the juvenile probation given and never gotten in any other trouble , will this effect my ability to get a job in teaching?

  6. This should not be a problem. Best of luck. Steve

  7. Andrea says:

    I was a certified school counselor in PA ( I have not worked as a counselor for ten years.) I would like to apply for positions to re enter the field. My issue is that I was convicted (first offense DUI ) about a year ago. I am unable to have it expunged because there was a minor in the car at the time of incident. I was ultimately not charged with child endangerment ( my lawyer was able to have this charge removed ) so a criminal check will just indicate first time DUI conviction. I am wondering if eligible to re enter my field with this charge? I read there is a 3 year ineligibility period but also a 5 one as well. I am unable to obtain any clear answers regarding this issue. Could you give me any guidance on this?

  8. There are two issues. First, can you get a license. The best way to be sure of this is to call the Pennsylvania Department of Education or have a lawyer do that for you anonymously. The exact conviction and grading can make a difference. Second, will a school hire you if this shows up on your background check. I think that answer varies from school to school. I’ve seen many people hired despite DUI charges but have also seen someone fired for a first offense DUI where he got ARD and was never convicted.

  9. Amanda says:

    I am a teacher and possibly facing a dui charge for operating an atv under the influence. It would be my first charge. Am I required to report this charge to my school?

  10. I don’t think you have to report the arrest because it is not proof that you did anything wrong, but you should hire a lawyer to research, via your school and the PSEA, whether you have to report a conviction.

  11. Thomas says:

    I was arrested for DUI it’s my first time, I was also driving with suspended liciense . I work with youth in the community and school setting will I be fired if I report it to my employer?

  12. I have worked with lots of individuals arrested for DUI who work in a school setting and were not fired. I have also worked with individuals who were fired. I think it is rare that teachers are fired for a first offense DUI but it certainly could happen. Familiarize yourself with the precedent in your own school. If there is an employee manual I would suggest reading the portion of that pertaining to criminal offenses.

  13. Jessica Q. says:

    My friend has his masters in elementary education. He worked for a public School district here in PA. He was a phenominal teacher! He had to leave his position due to diabetes, unrelated to his offenses. He completed his sentence with house arrest, fines and breathalizer in his car. Learned his lesson. It’s been over 6 years since it happened. He was born to teach. Can he get back into teaching now? It’s killing him that he can’t do what he was born to do. The reason for the DUI’s, unforseen divorce that blind sided him.

  14. DUI convictions do not automatically bar employment as a teacher. I have other clients who have gotten DUI convictions and are still teaching. He should look into applying for work. If he cannot find a job then we should talk about expungement / sealing (may be too soon) or a governor’s pardon.

  15. Shana L says:

    A fellow teacher was arrested yesterday for a first offense DUI. He was told there will be a court hearing in about a month/ month and a half. Does he need to report this to the school district now, or should he wait to see the outcome of the court hearing?

  16. This is a fact specific question. It depends on the school’s rules. You should look for a section on reporting, discipline, or misconduct in the employee manual or rules.

  17. AJB says:

    I know someone who was hired in a PA school district as a custodian . After almost 3 months into employment they let him go because of a DUI that occurred over 2 years ago. That was his 2nd DUI. His 1st occurred 10 years ago. He was up front and honest with them from the begging about the DUI. He also had ALL clearances up front prior to hiring him . He was cleared for hiring by the school board which we have an email to confirm .

    He went they ARD, 30 day out patient program, 90 day house arrest , and finished up his probation with no issues

    Can the school district do this ? Do they take other things into consideration? I don’t understand the law .

    They let him go with very little information. We are still waiting on the letter .

    Just looking for some guidance on this .

  18. The best thing to do in this situation would be to get a consultation with a good employment lawyer regarding whether there is a viable wrongful termination claim.

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