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General Questions and Answers

 

Frequently Asked Questions about Act 114 – 24 PS 1-111

 

This page is divided into sections pertaining to questions on the following major topics:

1. REQUIREMENTS

2. REGISTRATION

3. GETTING FINGERPRINTED

4. AFTER PRINTS ARE TAKEN

5. MISCELLANEOUS

 

 

1. REQUIREMENTS

 

1-1. What is the definition of Direct Contact with Children?

Section 8.1 defines "direct contact with children" as follows:

 

Direct contact with children - Possibility of care, supervision, guidance or control of children by a paid employee or contractor of, or an employee of a person under contract with, a school entity, and routine interaction with children by a paid employee of a school entity or a person under contract with a school entity

 

22 Pa. Code Chapter 8: http://www.pacode.com/secure/data/022/chapter8/chap8toc.html

 

1-2. Is a school required to hire an individual on a provisional basis?
No. The law allows, but does not require, the school to hire an individual on a provisional basis. If the school chooses to hire an employee on a provisional basis they may employ any applicants on a provisional basis for a single period not to exceed ninety (90) days, except during a lawful strike proceeding under the provisions of the act of July 23, 1970 (P.L. 563, No. 195), known as the "Public Employee Relations Act," provided that all of the following conditions are met:

 

a.   the applicant has applied for the information required under subsection (b) and, where applicable, under subsection (c) or (c.1) and the applicant provides a copy of the appropriate completed request forms to the administrator; and

b.   the administrator has no knowledge of information pertaining to the applicant which would disqualify him from employment pursuant to subsection (e); and

c.   the applicant swears or affirms in writing that he is not disqualified from employment pursuant to subsection (e); and

d.    if the information obtained pursuant to subsection (b), (c) or (c.1) reveals that the applicant is disqualified from employment pursuant to subsection (e), the applicant shall be suspended and subject to termination proceedings as provided for by law; and

e.   the administrator requires that the applicant not be permitted to work alone with children and that the applicant work in the immediate vicinity of a permanent employee.

 

1-3. Are volunteers required to obtain criminal background records?
State law only requires background check reports for volunteers in Charter Schools (23 PS 17-1724A).  State law does not require background checks for volunteers in other public and private schools.  However, individual school entities are permitted to adopt policies that go beyond the scope of the law (Act 114 - 24 PS 1-111).  Many school entities enforce policies that require background check reports for their volunteers.  Since individual school policies may vary, it is advised that volunteers check with the school regarding their policy.

 

1-4. Are substitutes required to obtain criminal background records annually?

The response depends on the individual situation.  For example, if a substitute teacher submitted all required and valid background check reports when initially hired; and, employment is automatically continued to the next school year; and, the substitute has worked at least one day during each school year, the substitute would not be required under state law to submit new background check reports.  However, the individual school policy might require reports to be provided each year.  If there is a break in service for the substitute and they did not work at least one day during the school year updated criminal background records would be required before working the next school year.

 

1-5. Are substitutes required to obtain criminal background records when applying for a permanent position?

The response depends on the individual situation and local school policy.

 

If the school considers this a new hire, updated background check reports must be provided, and the three required reports would have to be obtained by the applicant and submitted to the school prior to the individual being hired.

 

If the school policy considers this a transfer, new criminal reports may not be required: 24 PS 1-111 (h):  Any person who has once obtained the information required under this section may transfer to or provide services to another school in the same district, diocese or religious judicatory or established and supervised by the same organization and shall not be required to obtain additional reports before making such transfer." 

 

1-6. Are all school contractors and their employees required to obtain criminal background records?

 

Yes.  All independent contractors and their employees who will have direct contact with children must obtain the required State and Federal background check reports prior to working in a position in which they will have direct contact with children.  The school is required to review all reports to determine the fitness of the applicant to work in a position in which they will have contact with children.

 

If an independent contractor adds a new employee to the work force, the State and Federal background checks must be provided prior to the employee being assigned to any work which would bring the employee into direct contact with children.

 

1-7. Will student teacher candidates transferring from a community college program to a college/university program need to submit new criminal reports?

Yes. A new background check is required if the individual transfers from one college / university program to another. However, if the first background check reports are less than one year old, the reports may be used for the new program.

 

1-8. Are credit and noncredit instructors who teach youth classes on a college campus required to comply with the Act and obtain their Federal Criminal History?

If the courses are part of a school district or private school program and there is a contract or agreement related to the services, then the background check is required. If there is no involvement on the part of the school district or private school, the background check is not required. We would suggest that the college discuss the specific details with the School District/Intermediate Unit/AVTS/CTC.

 

1-9. When an employee retires or resigns and then seeks to return as a substitute teacher, is it required that the individual obtain new background clearances?

A retirement or resignation is a termination of service.  New clearances would be required after a termination of service when that individual seeks to work as a substitute teacher or any other capacity, after the individual has retired or resigned.

 

1-10. When an employee changes classifications, are new background clearances required?

Act 114 of 2006 states that a new clearance is not required when an employee “transfers” to another school.   The term “transfers” indicates that the employee would be in the same position or type of position.  If the individual is changing positions in the same manner as an individual being hired, the Act requires background clearances that are no more than one year old at the time of hire. Therefore, in such situations, the individual would be required to obtain new background clearances if their background check reports are more than one year old.

 

1-11. What other clearances/background check reports do I need and how do I obtain them?

Act 114 - 24 requires applicants to public and private schools to obtain three reports: the PA State Police criminal history report, the FBI criminal history report, and the State Department of Public Welfare (DPW) Child Abuse report. Procedures for obtaining the FBI report are outlined above.  Procedures for the remaining two are:

 

PENNSYLVANIA STATE CRIMINAL HISTORY RECORD (link)

Fee: $10.00 payable to Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

or:  https://epatch.state.pa.us/Home.jsp

Applicants may apply online through PATCH and obtain their report online, or *Applicants may also use Form SP-164, Pennsylvania State Police Request for Criminal Record Check and mail a money order to the PA State Police with the application.  The form may also be downloaded at the above site.

 

CHILD ABUSE REPORT – PA Department of Public Welfare (DPW)

Fee: $10.00 payable to the Department of Public Welfare 

Obtain forms from your prospective employer or online from DPW by clicking here: 
http://www.dpw.state.pa.us/findaform/childabusehistoryclearanceforms/index.htm

 For status of a request, please call the Department of Public Welfare, Childline and Abuse Registry at (717) 783-6211 or (toll-free) at 1-877-371-5422.

 

2. REGISTRATION

 

2-1. Can I change my registration if I made a mistake in the registration process?

If you discover a mistake on your registration prior to being fingerprinted, you may re-register at no additional cost. This re-registration will cancel out the initial registration.  In order to change your original registration, it is recommended that you call 3M Cogent at 888-439-2486, rather than attempt to change your registration online.  Registrations and payments are linked via the applicant's social security number.  As long as the social security number is kept the same, payment will not be affected.

 

In the past, applicants have registered under the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) and then learned they must register under the Department of Education (PDE) system.  Applicants should check with their potential employer to ensure they register correctly and avoid the need to register and be fingerprinted again at additional cost.   Once you are fingerprinted, no changes can be made. 

 

2-2. Will my selection of “Reason Fingerprinted” on the Registration form affect who is able to review my report?

No. This listing is provided as a general guide.  If you are concerned that your reason is not listed, please confirm that you are registering with the correct department prior to completing your registration. When fingerprinted through the PDE system, your report will be stored according to your Registration ID.  All approved school entities within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania may access the online system; however, only those to whom you provide your Registration ID will be able to access your record.

 

2-3. Can I bill the cost of my background check reports to my employer?

Provisions have been made that would allow billing of an employer to occur. The employer must download an AGENCY BILLING AGREEMENT (available at https://www.pa.cogentid.com) and submit a completed copy to 3M Cogent. Once the employer has been approved for billing, an Agency Billing ID (ABID) will be issued to the employer. An ABID entered during applicant registration will allow the transaction to be billed to the employer.

 

In most cases an employer will want to keep their ABID private. In that circumstance, employers may be required to register the applicants themselves. Speak with your employer to determine if they intend to make the billing of your background check possible. Billing accounts must be established prior to sending applicants to a fingerprint site.

 

2-4. I just registered to be fingerprinted and I paid online. How much time do I have to get fingerprinted?

All applicant registrations are now only valid for 90 days and if unused they will be cancelled with any payment being refunded.  Any applicant registration that has been cancelled and needs to be fingerprinted will need a new registration to complete this process.

3. GETTING FINGERPRINTED

 

3-1. I am an out-of-state applicant, where can I get fingerprinted?

3M Cogent has provided procedures for out-of-state applicants on their website at https://www.pa.cogentid.com   Please review those procedures under Registration--"How to Submit a Fingerprint Card to 3M Cogent.

 

3-2. What am I required to bring to the fingerprint site?

You must be registered prior to proceeding to a fingerprint site.  At the fingerprint site you will be asked to produce a qualified State or Federal photo ID before processing may begin (i.e. driver’s license, passport, military ID). See "What to bring" for a list of approved ID types at https://www.pa.cogentid.com.  Applicants will not be processed if they cannot produce acceptable identification. 

 

Students under 18 (minors) are required to bring a photo ID from their high school or college (if the ID does not have a photo of the individual, they must also bring their Social Security Card or Birth Certificate).  Minors are also required to be accompanied by a parent with a valid ID (such as a driver’s license, state issued ID, or passport)

 

3-3. What if I recently moved and have not updated my driver’s license?

Registration address in PA does not have to match address of Photo ID for purposes of obtaining the Federal Criminal History Record Information report (FBI Background check), under the process currently in place in Pennsylvania.

 

3M Cogent Livescan operators have been informed that the address need not match. There are many students living at colleges and universities with their home address on their photo identification.

 

3-4. May I have my employees fingerprinted at my company or facility?

If you have a requirement to fingerprint a large group of applicants (example… 300 college education majors, a contractor's entire staff of 120 employees, 50 bus drivers, etc.) mobile fingerprint units may be available. Some fingerprint service sites have the ability to bring portable equipment to your site.

 

If you are in need of Group Fingerprinting Support, visit https://www.pa.cogentid.com. Service sites in your area that have mobile equipment will be listed. NOTE: Mobile service requires the visited site to provide broadband internet access and access through any network firewall. It is the visited site’s responsibility to ensure this network functionality exists. Sites that offer mobile services can provide you instructions, in advance of their visit, that would allow fingerprinting to occur at your site. You must however, plan ahead. Requirements and guidelines for hosting a mobile Livescan operation can be found at https://www.pa.cogentid.com.

 

We encourage you to utilize mobile printing service if it is available but you must plan ahead. Please do not overwhelm the service by sending large groups of applicants to the fixed site locations. If you must send your large group of applicants to a fixed site, please plan for their arrival to occur over days and weeks, not hours.

 

4. AFTER PRINTS ARE TAKEN

 

4-1. Will applicants receive a receipt verifying that fingerprinting has been completed?

NO.  The fingerprint sites do not typically provide receipts.  However, similar to the PA State Police PATCH system the applicant’s Registration Receipt/Proof of Print Transaction may be viewed on and printed from the 3M Cogent website at http://www.pa.cogentid.com.  Please click on Proof of Transaction (Receipts).

You should print this proof of transaction after you are fingerprinted and keep a copy.  The Receipt/Proof of Print Transaction includes your Registration ID - you will need your Registration ID for job applications.

 

4-2. When will I receive a copy of my report?

Typically, the applicant can expect the federal CHRI report (FBI Report) to be available to the School Administrator within two days of being fingerprinted.  

Effective February 1, 2012 all applicants will receive an unofficial paper copy of the report at no additional cost to the applicant.  Applicants will receive their copy, via U.S. Mail, from 3M Cogent within two weeks of the fingerprint date.  The report will be mailed to the address used by the applicant for registration.

 

The paper copy will be printed on 8.5” X 11” paper with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania logo imbedded on the paper. This document does not constitute the official record – it is considered the “unofficial copy”, the official CHRI report is online.  

 

4-3. What if I received a copy of my report and it is lost or damaged?

Within 30 days of your fingerprinting, you can request another paper copy from 3M Cogent.  After 30 days, 3M Cogent will not provide an additional paper copy to you. The paper copy is considered an unofficial copy.   The original of your report will remain online for one year after the date of fingerprinting.  Public and private schools and universities can view your original report online, provided you provide them with your Registration ID.

 

Approximately 6,000 new requests are received by the FBI’s Fingerprint Identification Records System each day. Fingerprints are destroyed after reports are issued; fingerprints are not stored. If you are required to obtain a new report, you must register again with 3M Cogent and be fingerprinted again.

 

4-4. I am beginning a nurse aide training program.  How will my program coordinator get my results?

Nurse aide training programs are not granted access to the electronic reports.  This is a specialty program overseen by PDE’s Bureau of Career and Technical Education.  Authorized staff will retrieve the report using the applicant’s Registration ID; this ID must be provided to the nurse aide training program by the applicant, and the program coordinator will send a request to PDE staff.  The report will be reviewed internally, and a determination letter will be mailed to the applicant.  A program administrator or coordinator may request an expedited copy of the approval letter by submitting a completed Release of FBI Approval letter from the applicant.  An applicant may not present an unofficial paper copy of their report in lieu of the official approval letter from PDE. Further information about this program is available on the Department's Nurse Aide Training Program Eligibility webpage (link).

 

4-5. Why is my School of Nursing unable to access my CHRI report?

Schools of Nursing and their students are not addressed in Act 114, not under the authority of the Department of Education (PDE), and therefore are not considered approved school entities under Act 114.  Only approved school entities that are required by law to obtain these reports through a system determined by PDE are authorized to review the results within PDE’s secure online system.  Typically, schools of nursing require nursing students to obtain an FBI background check report prior to clinical rotations in children’s hospitals.  Therefore, nursing students should apply for their FBI background check report through the system administered by the Department of Public Welfare (DPW), under the Child Protective Services Law (CPSL).  Please contact DPW at (717) 783-6211 if you have any questions, or visit the DPW website (link).

 

4-6.  How can I provide my report to PA-Educator.net?

PA-Educator is aware of the electronic processing system.  The application now requires the applicant to include the Registration ID on the application rather than submission of a paper copy of the FBI report.  PA-Educator.net is not affiliated with PDE; it is operated by the Allegheny Intermediate Unit.  If you have further questions, please contact the Allegheny Intermediate Unit (link).

 

4-7. How may an applicant obtain a change, correction or update of the CHRI?

Following is the Web site for a copy of Departmental Order 556-73 (Title 28, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 16.30 - 16.34) which describes how the subject of an FBI identification record may obtain a copy of his/her record to review or to obtain a change, correction, or updating of that record:  http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/background-checks/order. 3M Cogent and the Pennsylvania Department of Education are not responsible for the contents of your report and are not authorized to change any information on the reports.

 

5. MISCELLANEOUS

 

5-1. What type of federal CHRI (FBI Report) was provided to those who were fingerprinted prior to December 1, 2008?

Applicants who were fingerprinted prior to December 1, 2008, received an official report, on paper from the PA Department of Education.

 

5-2. How do I know if my personal information is secure?

Your personal data traveling from the fingerprint equipment is comprehensively secured and regulated by both 3M Cogent and State and Federal regulations governing the use of that data.

 

The 3M Cogent statewide fingerprint service is housed within a secured network that is protected by firewall devices configured explicitly to allow only permissible protocols and traffic. 3M Cogent ensures that all of the fingerprint machine's background checks submissions adhere to both the FBI's and Pennsylvania State Police's Security requirements. All communication traffic to and from the fingerprint machine is either encrypted or conducted through encrypted ports.

 

5-3. What is contained in the Federal Criminal History Record Information (CHRI) Report?

An FBI Identification Record, often referred to as a Criminal Applicant Response, Criminal History Record or Rap Sheet, is a listing of certain information taken from fingerprint submissions retained by the FBI in connection with arrests and, in some instances, federal employment, naturalization, or military service. If the fingerprints are related to an arrest, the Identification Record includes name of the agency that submitted the fingerprints to the FBI, the date of arrest, the arrest charge, and the disposition of the arrest, if known to the FBI. All arrest data included in an Identification Record is obtained from fingerprint submissions, disposition reports and other reports submitted by agencies having criminal justice responsibilities.

 

5-4. What is contained in the PA State Police criminal history report?

The information provided by the requestor will be checked against the criminal history database maintained by the Pennsylvania State Police Central Repository only, and does not preclude the existence of criminal records which might be contained in the repositories of other local, state, or federal criminal justice agencies.

 

5-5. I still have additional questions; who should I call?

The fingerprint sites cannot answer questions except those involving times and locations of fingerprinting sites. All additional information regarding the process and print locations may be found at https://www.pa.cogentid.com, or you may call 3M Cogent during business hours at (614)718-9691, ext. 3304.  Policy questions should be addressed to RA-PDE-SchoolService@pa.gov, or by phone at (717)783-3750.


For additional information, please contact:

Denise Wolfgang | Administrative Assistant
Pennsylvania Department of Education - School Services Office
333 Market Street | Harrisburg, PA 17126-0333
Phone: 717.783.3750
dwolfgang@pa.gov | www.education.state.pa.us