School Employee Background Checks

from the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners' Licensure Handbook

1. When did background checks begin?

October 1, 2000, for initial licensure July 1, 2006, for renewals

2. Who will be required to have a background check?

All initial applicants have a total background check, including a criminal history check and the three registries and all renewal applicants go through an abbreviated background check which includes the three registries; teachers, coaches, administrators, paraeducators, anyone from out-of-state, substitutes, and behind-the-wheel authorizations.

3. What exactly is a background check?

For a full background check a person signs a waiver allowing the Iowa State Division of Criminal Investigations and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to conduct a background check. An FBI fingerprint card is submitted and sent to the FBI lab. For the abbreviated background check the child abuse registry, sex offender registry, and the dependent adult abuse registry are all checked. The results of all the state and national criminal background checks are sent to the Board of Educational Examiners for review.

4. If someone had an Iowa license, let it expire, and then decided to re-activate or renew the license, will a background check be required?

Yes, all renews do the abbreviated background check.

5. How much does it cost?

The total cost (as of July 1, 2009) for initial applications is $65, but if an applicant is fingerprinted in the Board of Educational Examiners office, the cost is $52 instead of the regular $65. These fees are in addition to the regular license and evaluation fees. There is no fee for a background check on a renewal application.

6. Can the information found on either the DCI or the FBI be shared with a local school district?

No. Iowa law prohibits the Board, or any authorized agency, to share this information with a third party.

7. Should local school districts conduct their own background checks?

Yes. The Board of Educational Examiners conducts background checks for licensure only. Federal law allows school districts to conduct background checks, for example, for hiring purposes.

8. Is it true that the results from the FBI fingerprints may take four to eight weeks?

Yes. In some instances, it may take longer.

9. How will that affect the licensure application?

The DCI check is completed within a few days. However, the FBI results take longer.

10. Who reviews the criminal history records?

The Board's investigator, Executive Director, and the Board's legal counsel review them.

11. What is the process for reviewing an applicant's criminal conviction history?

The Board looks for felonies, misdemeanors, and founded child abuse reports. As required in Iowa Code 272.2.14, the Board must consider the following: 1) the nature and seriousness of the founded abuse or crime in relation to the position sought, 2) the time elapsed since the founded abuse or crime was committed, 3) the degree of rehabilitation which has taken place since the incidence of founded abuse or commission of the crime, 4) the likelihood that the person will commit the same abuse or crime again, and 5) the number of founded abuses committed or criminal convictions by the person involved.

12. Does an individual need to divulge criminal activity if it occurred when he/she was a minor?

HB_01.15.13.doc 37 of 53 It depends. If a minor is accused of criminal conduct and found guilty by a juvenile court, the finding is referred to as an "adjudication" rather than a "conviction". Technically, a juvenile adjudication is outside the Board's inquiry. In some circumstances, jurisdiction is transferred by the juvenile court and minors are charged and convicted as adults. In those cases, a "conviction" occurs, which must be disclosed. Whether an individual needs to divulge criminal activity when he/she was a minor depends upon whether the matter was considered by the juvenile or adult system. If juvenile court adjudication - no, if conviction in district court - yes.

Deferred judgments must also be disclosed. In 2003, the Iowa Supreme Court decided that an incident with a deferred judgment will be considered when making licensure decisions, because a deferred judgment is a conviction. The individual was either found guilty of, or pled guilty to the incident, and the incident must be disclosed. Although sentencing or penalty may not be imposed if the individual successfully completes the probation, a deferred judgment is still considered a conviction and must be disclosed.

13. Does the Board review the answers to the criminal history questions provided by the applicant for possible fraud?

 Yes. The Board examines the application to determine if the person answered the questions truthfully. If the applicant checked "yes" to any of the questions, the Board reviews the information provided by the applicant against the actual criminal history record. If the applicant checked "no" to any of the questions but was found to have a conviction, the application may be considered fraudulent and the application may be denied.

14. Why would an applicant be denied a license, an authorization, or a certificate?

  • The applicant failed to tell the truth
  • The applicant's criminal history was serious enough to warrant a denial
  • The applicant failed to provide the Board with additional information required by the Board
  • The applicant provided a fraudulent license, transcript, or other official document
  • The applicant's license, certification, or authorization from another state is suspended or revoked

15. Is there an appeal process if the application is denied?

Yes. Iowa Code 272.7 states that the Executive Director may grant or deny license applications. The decision may be appealed by the practitioner to the Board.