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POLICY CODE: GCF
TO: Superintendents of Schools
FROM: J. Duke Albanese
DATE: January 24, 2001
RE: Full Implementation of Criminal History Records Checks
I hope the New Year finds you without too many strains of flu in your district! We are moved in to the fifth floor of the Cross State Office Building. If you have not yet visited us, please plan to do so in the near future. As so many of you have experienced, everything is fresh in a new construction site, even with the challenges of the floors above and below us still being under construction.
I am pleased to report that the Certification Office files are unpacked, all 54,000 of them, and personnel are ready to serve once again. Thank you for your patience as we went through the massive undertaking of packing and unpacking all of your records.
The State Police have asked me to announce that individuals now have the opportunity to register for fingerprinting through an on-line system. I am sure you have heard of the sessions that were so oversubscribed that individuals had to wait in line for hours or were turned away altogether. Please express my apologies to your staff who have been inconvenienced by this. This has been caused by two factors:
1) The move to regional sites this year, since few districts have enough people still to be fingerprinted in a given year to require a local site; and
2) Individuals deciding to be fingerprinted one or more years ahead of the required date.
The new on-line system should make the numbers predictable for the State Police and the wait times reasonable for school personnel.
To register for fingerprinting, individuals must link through the Department of Education website:
At this location, the individual will indicate the date and location, and receive a specific time and confirmation number. To cancel the registration, the individual must call the Certification Office. At the fingerprinting site the individual will be asked to produce a picture ID (a driver’s
license is preferred) and the confirmation number. Those without a confirmation number will not be fingerprinted. Individuals who do not have access to the web can call the Certification Office at 207-624-6603 and personnel will access the web page and register the person. Their confirmation number will be given to them at that time.
The February fingerprint sites will serve those who have registered as well as walk-ins. However, starting in March, the only people fingerprinted will be those that have registered on-line. Snow cancellations will be broadcasted on local radio and television stations.
All regular employees should now have a license. In December, we issued temporary licenses to all employees in the “approval” category who had not yet been fingerprinted, but who had applied for approval. These licenses indicate the year by which the individual must be fingerprinted and pass the criminal history records check. As I have said before, please advise these individuals that they should be fingerprinted in the year prior to expiration, and not before.
“Regular employees” include support personnel (other than ed techs), coaches who do not hold a certificate or authorization, and district administrators who do not hold a certificate (such as business manager or transportation supervisor). This does not include substitutes or contracted service providers.
At this time, you should ask all regular employees to provide a copy of their licenses for your records. There are still thousands of people who have been fingerprinted, but have not applied for any license. For anyone who cannot produce a license, either the employee, the superintendent, or the personnel officer should contact the Certification Office with the name and social security number of the employee to determine the employee’s status by one of three means:
1) E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
2) Call 624-6603
3) Call the Department receptionist at 624-6600
Remember that if the reason an individual has been denied a license is because of the CHRC, we cannot give you any information about the conviction history. Depending on our response on an individual’s status, the following action must be taken by the District:
IF DOE RESPONSE TO YOUR CALL IS:
TAKE THIS ACTION:
|1)||The individual has not applied for a license.||1)||Give the individual an application to be completed and returned to DOE right away.|
|2)||The individual has been fingerprinted but not yet processed.||2)||No action necessary.|
|3)||The individual has been issued a license||3)||Ask the individual for a copy as soon as it is received.|
|4)||The individual has applied, has been processed, and is not licensed.||4)||End employment immediately.|
As we have reviewed the CHRC printouts, many have been for convictions that are too old to be relevant, and the vast majority are for convictions that are not disqualifying. However, many of these individuals checked on their applications that they had no conviction other than a minor traffic offense. Some of these are simple mistakes. However, some of these convictions involved extended incarceration, which is unforgettable, or multiple convictions with only the least serious explained. In this first year of reviewing records, we are exploring alternatives to denying people licenses based solely on inconsistency between application and criminal records check. For this reason, we have given individuals with a conviction that is not by itself disqualifying, the opportunity to submit a new application with an explanation. This will not be an option in future years.
-- Please note that this letter has been redacted to remove statistical information that has been determined by the Attorney General to be confidential, in an opinion letter dated February 13, 2001.