Board of Trustees Policy
Subject: Pre-Employment Background Checks
Date: May 20, 2019
Supersedes: September 2015, June 2012, January 2011, September 2005
In keeping with Montgomery County Community College’s goal of building a modern and model workplace and of providing a safe and secure environment for the campus community, the College will conduct background checks on all prospective employees and volunteers. In compliance with Pennsylvania Act 153, all prospective employees, current employees, independent contractors, and volunteers who have direct contact with children, as defined by law, will be required to submit to three mandatory clearances: PA Child Abuse Clearance, PA State Police Criminal Clearance, and the FBI Fingerprinting Clearance. In addition, all prospective faculty employees hired after the effective date of this policy will be required to submit to these same three clearances; these clearances include the PA Child Abuse Clearance, the PA State Police Criminal Clearance, and the FBI Fingerprinting Clearance.
The Human Resources Department of Montgomery County Community College shall initiate an appropriate background check on every prospective employee and volunteer. Background checks will be conducted by an independent entity whose primary business it is to conduct background checks. The Human Resources Department will initiate clearances as outlined in this policy. Clearances will be completed in accordance with Pennsylvania Department of Human Services’ procedures.
Following the offer of employment or request to volunteer, the Human Resources Department will send an email explaining the electronic background check process and outlining the College’s intent to conduct a background check. The background check company contacts the prospective employee or volunteer electronically with a secure login and password where they will read the summary of their rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and complete the background check form. As a condition of employment or volunteering, an authorization for release of information covered by the FCRA must be signed. Prospective employees and volunteers unwilling to sign the authorization form will be eliminated from the selection process.
Background checks include:
- Criminal Felony and Misdemeanor—Performs fundamental criminal searches that reveal felonies and misdemeanors by searching county courthouse records corresponding to an applicant’s address history. This search finds, confirms, and reports a candidate’s felony and misdemeanor records history.
- SSN Trace—Reveals the names and addresses associated with a Social Security Number (SSN) using credit bureau records. This provides the essential information necessary for other services and can help detect an incorrect or compromised SSN.
- National Criminal Search—Report includes state and county criminal records, parole records, and sex offender registry checks. As opposed to the Criminal Felony and Misdemeanor search, this search provides information about crimes committed in areas where the applicant did not live. This search is based on the applicants name and date of birth.
- National Sex Offender Registry—Reveals records for known sex offenders by checking U.S. Department of Justice databases. Results include registered sex offender information for all fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam.
The Human Resources Department will determine if any of the following additional background checks will be required for the position:
- Education Report—Confirms degree, certificate, or diploma claims directly with institutions or their authorized agents. Results are checked against a database of fictitious schools and diploma mills and include institution name, dates of attendance, current status and degree, certificate, or diploma issued with award dates.
- MVR Report (Motor Vehicle Records)—Reveals the status of an individual’s driver’s license, license type, endorsements, restrictions, driving violations, suspensions, and revocations. An MVR check is recommended for any applicant that may be driving a truck, company car, or heavy machinery. In some states, convictions such as driving under the influence (DUI) are not reported on court records, but are revealed in the driving record.
- Credit History Check—Reviews the comprehensive credit history of a candidate. It provides information about the status of negative accounts, accounts in collections, inquiries by third parties, and more. Understanding credit history may be relevant for individuals with access to cash, budgets, or discretionary spending.
ACT 153 of 2014
Act 153 mandates three additional clearances: PA Child Abuse Clearances, PA State Police Criminal Clearances, and Federal Criminal History Records (CHRI) through FBI Fingerprinting. The College requires all three clearances for prospective faculty employees hired after the effective date of this policy; and for prospective employees, current employees, independent contractors, and volunteers who have direct contact with children. Direct contact involves the care, supervision, guidance or control of children and routine interaction, which includes regular and repeated contact that is integral to their responsibilities. Act 153 exempts higher education institutions from obtaining clearances if the contact with children involves matriculated students enrolled at the school or prospective students visiting the campus. All prospective employees hired after the effective date of this policy are responsible for all fees and charges associated with the completion of the clearances for hire.
New clearances must be obtained every five years. The Human Resources Department will contact current employees when new clearances are required.
- Prospective Employees—The PA Child Abuse Clearance, PA State Police Criminal Clearance, and FBI Fingerprinting must be completed prior to an employee starting at the College. Prospective employees may be hired pending the successful outcome of the required background checks and clearances.
- Current Employees—These clearances may be requested at any point during an employee’s history at the College when it is determined that the employee’s position meets the criteria for such checks and clearances.
- Independent Contractors— Independent contractors responsible for the care, supervision, guidance, or control of children OR those with regular and repeated contact with children as an integral part of their responsibilities are required to obtain clearances.
- Volunteers—Volunteers who are age 18 or older are required to obtain the clearances if they provide care, supervision, guidance or control of children OR if they have regular and repeated contact with children as an integral part of their responsibilities. Adult volunteers who have lived in PA consistently for the past 10 years are not required to complete the FBI Fingerprinting; however, they must affirm in writing that they are not disqualified from service based on a conviction of an offense under Section 6344 of PA Title 23. Any adult volunteer who has lived outside of the state within the past 10 years must obtain the FBI Fingerprinting check.
Act 153 Requirements
- PA State Police Clearance—This clearance will check the information provided by the requestor against the criminal history database maintained by the Pennsylvania State Police Central Repository.
- PA Child Abuse Clearance—Most states maintain child abuse registries, but the way in which they are maintained and the reasons for having them vary by state. The Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance Check will provide the applicant information as to whether or not they are listed in the Pennsylvania statewide database as a perpetrator of child abuse.
- Federal Criminal History Record Information (CHRI)—The CHRI is the result of an FBI fingerprint-based background check for the purpose of verifying identity and obtaining a current record of any criminal arrests and convictions.
Offers of employment are made contingent on the background check and clearance results. Employment or volunteering begin after the background check and clearance results have been obtained and reviewed to the satisfaction of the Executive Director of Human Resources or to the satisfaction of his or her designee. When adequate time does not exist to complete the background check process, such as with adjunct faculty, obtaining a satisfactory background check will be a condition for continued employment. An Affidavit for provisional employment in compliance with Pennsylvania Act 153 will also be signed.
Pre-Adverse and Adverse Action Procedures
When the results of the background checks and clearances warrant further review, the College will notify the prospective employee, current employee, or volunteer by written communication. In addition to this letter, the prospective employee, current employee, or volunteer will be sent the Summary of Rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act and their consumer credit report. The prospective employee, current employee, or volunteer will be given three days to contact the Human Resources Department to schedule an appointment to explain the background check and clearance results. If the prospective employee or prospective volunteer does not supply a satisfactory justification explaining the results within three days, the prospective employee or prospective volunteer will no longer be considered for the position in question. If the current employee or volunteer does not supply a satisfactory justification explaining the results within three days, he or she will no longer be considered an employee or volunteer of the College.
If the College declines to hire a candidate or continue employment for a current employee or volunteer due to information uncovered as a result of the background check, the Human Resources Department will notify the candidate using the Notice of Adverse Action letter that he or she is not eligible for employment at the College.
Information uncovered through the background check will remain on file in the Human Resources Department, along with other materials related to the application process, for the period of time mandated by law.