Pittsburgh Area School District Makes Updates to Background Check Policies

By Michael Klazema on 11/24/2014

The school board for Peters Township, Pennsylvania has opted to make a few notable changes to background check policies. And thanks to a state law that just recently went into effect, they won't be the last district in Pennsylvania to do so this year.

The Peters Township School District is responding to a recent piece of state legislation that requires schools to update background checks on employees and volunteers every three years. That's a big change over how Peters Township schools were doing things in the past. It used to be that volunteers only had to get a new background check every five years. As for employees, they were allowed to work forever on a single background check: no repeats necessary.

Though it will be costlier for schools, the new state law is a positive one. After all, schools should require repeat background checks for their workers. Not only do regular background checks help to catch new criminal offenses, but they also keep employees and volunteers accountable. In most areas, teachers and school workers are expected to report any new criminal convictions to their employers. Without the promise of a repeat background check, though, some individuals keep their criminal activity quiet. Repeat background checks, then, help to make the honor system more honorable.

Background check updates aren't the only changes stipulated by the new Pennsylvania state law. On the contrary, the legislation also has guidelines about what types of checks schools should be running on certain individuals. For instance, an employee or volunteer who has lived in Pennsylvania for 10 years or longer only has to undergo state police and Department of Public Welfare Checks. These screenings target statewide incidents of criminal history or child abuse charges.

Applicants, employees, or volunteers who recently moved to the state of Pennsylvania, meanwhile, are required to go through more sweeping FBI checks. These nationwide screenings look for criminal history and other charges but on a national level. In other words, lawmakers want to avoid school background check policies that allow criminals to slip through the cracks just because they don't have a record in Pennsylvania. With these new checks, a teacher or school volunteer won't be able to easily leave their criminal histories behind in other states.

The Peters Township School District is just one of many Pennsylvania school districts that will be making background check policy changes this month or next. The new state law requires schools to adopt compatible policies by the end of the year.


Tag Cloud
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • March 22 Countrywide, states and local municipalities have committed to ban the box legislation, seeking to equalize opportunities in the job market for those with criminal histories.
  • March 22

    Thinking about becoming a firefighter? Here are some of the background check requirements you might face.

  • March 20

    Four Department of Commerce employees are out after their background checks resulted in security clearance denials. All four had worked high-ranking positions for months despite incomplete background checks.

  • March 15 As more states legalize the recreational use of cannabis, they contend with the emergence of new industries surrounding marijuana cultivation and production. 
  • March 14 In most cases, it is easy to determine where an issue might show up on a pre-employment background check. Citations for traffic violations or reckless driving charges will appear on a motor vehicle record check. Verdicts in a civil court case will show on a civil court background check. And criminal convictions—from petty theft to violent felonies—show up on criminal background checks.
  • March 13 How many years back do employment background checks go? This question can have multiple different answers depending on the situation.
  • March 13 A new bill in Florida would require landlords of apartment complexes to present tenants with verifications of employee background checks to give them peace of mind the people working in and around their homes are trustworthy.
  • March 08 Police officers working with the University of Texas at Arlington recently arrested a man who had avoided police capture on a warrant out of Oregon for nearly two decades. The man, whose real name is Daniel Charles Ray Hanson, spent those 17 years using a variety of fake names and identification documents to move around the country, often engaging with educational institutions under false pretenses. Police say Hanson regularly went by at least three different aliases. He sports a rap sheet that stretches back to an arson conviction in 1995. 
  • March 07

    The Future of EEOC Guidance in Texas Is Up in the Air

    The EEOC issued guidance in 2012 warning employers about the dangers of enforcing categorical policies to bar candidates with criminal histories. That guidance is not enforceable in Texas thanks to a recent court ruling.

  • March 05 Vermont is the latest state to restrict employers’ access to and use of social media accounts of employees and applicants.