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.