Skip to Content - Skip to Navigation

Background Investigation Policy

Please see the additional information regarding required clearances.

  1. Purpose

    This policy is written to provide guidance ensuring a consistent implementation of the Child Protection Services Law, 23 Pa.C.S. § 6301 et seq., as amended, and applicable policies of the State System of Higher Education Board of Governors governing background investigations for State System universities. Nothing herein is intended to contradict or lessen compliance with applicable federal and state laws or regulations.
  2. Scope

    This policy applies to all current employees (including students); final candidates for employment; graduate assistants; volunteers; and employees, subcontractors and volunteers of independent contractors who may have contact with minors, compliant with applicable law and university policy.
  3. Objective

    The objective of this policy is to establish a process for obtaining pre-employment background investigation information for successful candidates. For all current employees and volunteers, the policy establishes a requirement to obtain criminal background investigations once every 36 months and report certain arrests or convictions. Independent contractors whose employees, subcontractors or volunteers may come in contact with minors are required to show evidence of criminal background investigation compliance for those individuals assigned to the university.
  4. Definitions

    Arrest: Charged with a reportable offense.

    Background Investigations: Background investigations may include but are not limited to, personal and professional references, employment verification, criminal background, education verification, licensures, certifications, military discharge and credit history.

    Criminal Background Investigations: Criminal background investigations include inquiries to determine past criminal convictions. All inquiries must comply with all state and federal laws. The following checks will comprise a criminal background investigation unless otherwise exempted out under this policy:
    1. Act 34 - Pennsylvania State Criminal Records
    2. Act 114 - Federal Criminal History Record Information (FBI Fingerprint Investigation)
    3. Act 151 - Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Child Abuse History Clearance
  5. Conviction: Conviction is an adjudication of guilt and includes determinations before a court, a district justice or magistrate and pleas of nolo contendere (no contest) that result in a fine, sentence or probation.

    Employee: Any person at any State System entity who is paid through the central payroll system and receives a Form W-2 from the State System, including student employees. For purposes of this policy, employment in contiguous semesters (excluding winter and summer sessions) shall equate to continuous service and the individual shall be considered a current employee.

    Independent Contractor: An individual who provides a program, activity, or service to the university or as part of a non-university-sponsored program on university property that is responsible for the care, supervision, guidance, or control of minors. This definition includes janitorial, food service, and bookstore contractors.

    Reportable Offense: Any of several criminal offenses enumerated in Pennsylvania’s Child Protective Services Law, 23 Pa.C.S. §6344(c):

    1. A founded report within the preceding five-year period in the statewide database maintained by the Department of Human Services.
    2. One or more of the following provisions of Title 18 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes (relating to crimes and offenses) or an equivalent crime under the laws or former laws of the United States or one of its territories or possessions, another state, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or a foreign nation, or under a former law of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania:
      1. Chapter 25 relating to criminal homicide.
      2. Section 2702 relating to aggravated assault.
      3. Section 2709.1 relating to stalking.
      4. Section 2901 relating to kidnapping.
      5. Section 2902 relating to unlawful restraint.
      6. Section 3121 relating to rape.
      7. Section 3122.1 relating to statutory sexual assault.
      8. Section 3123 relating to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse.
      9. Section 3124.1 relating to sexual assault.
      10. Section 3125 relating to aggravated indecent assault.
      11. Section 3126 relating to indecent assault.
      12. Section 3127 relating to indecent exposure.
      13. Section 4302 relating to incest.
      14. Section 4303 relating to concealing death of a child.
      15. Section 4304 relating to endangering welfare of children.
      16. Section 4305 relating to dealing in infant children.
      17. A felony offense under Section 5902(b) relating to prostitution and related offenses.
      18. Section 5903(c) or (d) relating to obscene and other sexual materials and performances.
      19. Section 6301 relating to corruption of minors.
      20. Section 6312 relating to sexual abuse of children.
    3. An offense designated as a felony under the act of April 14, 1972 (P.L. 233, No. 64), known as “The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act,” committed within the preceding five-year period.

    Volunteer: Any individual, including students, authorized by an appropriate appointing authority or designee of an appointing authority, who provides services to the university without remuneration from the university. This includes members of governing bodies and student associations.

  6. Responsibilities

    1. Associate Vice President for Human Resources:
      1. To incorporate the requirements of this policy into the employment process and all other university procedures where background investigation are mandated.
      2. To ensure compliance with this policy and relevant procedures.
    2. Human Resources Faculty/Administrative Employment Manager (Human Resources Designee):
      1. To notify job applicants of the requirements of this policy before and during the recruitment and selection process.
      2. To ensure that background investigation applications are submitted prior to extending offers of employment.
      3. To coordinate verification efforts with the search committee chair or hiring supervisor.
      4. To share the results, of the background investigation with the respective vice president and university legal counsel when a positive result is revealed which may either be an automatic disqualification of employment, or may be specifically related to the duties of the position.
    3. HR Coordinator – Management Technician:
      1. Under the direction of the Employment Manager, administer the background investigation process for all needs identified in this policy and maintain accurate records and compliance.
      2. Immediately notify the Employment Manager and the Associate Vice President of Human Resources of any positive results.
  7. Policy

    1. Generally:
      1. Determination as to the depth, or included elements as allowed for by law, of a background investigation will be made jointly by the respective department or division head and the Associate Vice President for Human Resources, or the Human Resources Designee. The Office of Human Resources will develop practices to ensure that the nature and extent of any background investigation will be consistently applied and based on relevant job requirements.
      2. All final candidates for positions and current employees applying for promotion or transfer to a position that requires a background investigation must execute appropriate authorizations mandated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act and other applicable laws. Refusal to sign the authorization for the release of information will result in the candidate being eliminated and disqualified from consideration for employment.
      3. False or misleading application or resume information or statements made as part of the background investigation, screening or interview process may result in the withdrawal of any employment or appointment offer or discipline up to and including termination. The university also reserves the right to take disciplinary action up to and including termination where false or misleading statements are discovered after an offer of employment or appointment has been accepted.
      4. Employment or appointment will be denied upon evidence of a disqualifying result as identified in Title 23, Section 6344 as amended, or Section 111 of the Act of March 10, 1949 (P.L. 30, No. 14), known as the Public School Act of 1949, as amended. Evidence of convictions beyond those noted will not result in automatic disqualification but will be considered on a case by case basis by the university. The assessment is to be done considering the following factors:

        Whether the candidate’s prior conviction undermines his/her suitability or fitness to perform the required job responsibilities;

        The time that has elapsed since the conviction; and

        The nature and gravity of the criminal conviction.

        Where conflicts exist between statutes relative to time limitations the more stringent of the limits will be used.
      5. The university will provide candidates, employees and volunteers with a copy of their background investigation reports not already in their possession upon request, regardless of outcome and without charge.
      6. In cases where the background investigation will result in an adverse employment or appointment decision:

        The university will provide a copy of the report to the individual, as well as all required notifications pursuant to the Fair Credit Reporting Act and other applicable laws.

        The individual must be given a reasonable opportunity (at least five [5] business days) to submit information to the Human Resources Designee disputing the accuracy and/or completeness of the report before a final employment or appointment decision can be made.
      7. For current employees, to the extent applicable, the university shall follow the disciplinary processes outlined in relevant Collective Bargaining Agreements (faculty, administrators, or staff) or university or Board of Governors’ policy.
    2. For pre-employment purposes:
      1. All successful candidates for instructional and non-instructional vacancies shall have a background investigation conducted pre-employment.
      2. All candidates for employment must complete and sign an online employment application which includes a statement that the candidate’s signature authorizes the university to investigate all statements made on the application, including checking references, past employment and concerning the individual’s fitness for employment.
      3. Refusal to submit to a background investigation shall be considered a withdrawal of the application for employment.
    3. For current employees:
      1. Any current employee who does not possess original evidence of the required criminal background investigations shall be required to obtain them by December 31, 2015, and not more than 36 months following their most recent criminal background investigation thereafter.
      2. Any current employee who possesses original evidence of the required criminal background investigations performed within the prior 36 months may submit them to the Office of Human Resources and obtain the requisite criminal background investigations not more than 36 months following their most recent criminal background investigation thereafter.
      3. Any current employee who possesses original evidence of the required criminal background investigations older than 36 months shall be required to obtain them by December 31, 2015, and not more than 36 months following their most recent criminal background investigation thereafter.
      4. Employees who are promoted or who transfer to a position which has been determined to require a background investigation will have such verified prior to assuming the new position.
    4. For volunteers:
      1. Each volunteer is responsible for obtaining evidence of a successful criminal background investigation and providing such original evidence to the Office of Human Resources.
      2. Beginning July 1, 2015, prospective volunteers must submit to or provide evidence of a criminal background investigation performed within the previous 36 months.
      3. Beginning July 1, 2015, volunteers approved prior to July 1, 2015 must submit to, or provide evidence of, a criminal background investigation performed as follows:

        Within 36 months of the date of the most recent clearance.

        By July 1, 2016, if clearances are older than 36 months.

        By July 1, 2016, if no clearances have been received because the volunteer was previously not required to do so.
      4. The FBI Fingerprint Investigation is not required for volunteers who meet all of the following:

        The position for which the volunteer is applying is unpaid.

        The volunteer has been a resident of this Commonwealth during the entirety of the previous ten-year period.

        The volunteer swears or affirms in writing that he/she is not disqualified from service or has not been convicted of a reportable offense.
    5. For independent contractors who may have contact with minors:
      1. Independent contractors are responsible for obtaining evidence of a successful criminal background investigation on each employee or subcontractor or volunteer who may come in contact with minors prior to assignment of that individual to the university and during the term of any contract with the university.
      2. Independent contractors shall certify to the Office of Human Resources or other designee the requisite criminal background investigations have been performed.
      3. Independent contractors must maintain records of the criminal background investigations in accordance with this policy and be able to provide evidence of a successful criminal background investigation conducted within the prior 36 months for each employee and subcontractor or volunteer assigned to the university within 72 hours of a request from the university.
    6. For students who require criminal background investigations as part of an academic program: Students who must pass a criminal background investigation for purposes of participating in an academic program will have their results evaluated against the criterion established by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania requirements for such professionals. Summative results of pass/fail will be provided both to the student and the respective program advisor with the respective College. The College shall keep any such records as part of the student’s educational record.
    7. Reporting of Arrests and Convictions:
      1. All employees and volunteers must provide written notice to the Office of Human Resources if they are: 1) arrested for, or convicted of, a reportable offense (as defined in this policy); or 2) named as a perpetrator in a founded or indicated report of child abuse. The employee or volunteer shall provide such written notice within 72 hours of arrest, conviction, or notification that the person has been listed as a perpetrator in the statewide database. The failure of an employee or volunteer to make a written notification as required above is a misdemeanor of the third degree and may be subject to discipline up to and including termination or denial of employment or appointment to a volunteer position.
      2. All employees and subcontractors and volunteers of independent contractors must provide written notice to the independent contractor if they are: 1) arrested for, or convicted of, a reportable offense (as defined in this policy); or 2) named as a perpetrator in a founded or indicated report of child abuse. The employee or subcontractor or volunteer shall provide such written notice within 72 hours of arrest, conviction, or notification that the person has been listed as a perpetrator in the statewide database. Independent contractors shall provide notice to the Office of Human Resources within 24 hours.
      3. If the university has a reasonable belief that an i) employee or volunteer; or ii) employee or subcontractor or volunteer of an independent contractor has been arrested or convicted of a reportable offense or was named as perpetrator in a founded or indicated report, or the individual has provided notice of activity that would be sufficient to deny employment, appointment or program participation, the individual must immediately submit current information as required for criminal background investigations under this policy.
    8. Maintenance and Confidentiality of Records:
      1. The Office of Human Resources shall require all employees and volunteers to produce original evidence of successful investigations prior to employment or appointment or within the timeframes set forth in this policy.
      2. Copies of the clearance documents shall be stored in a separate confidential file, away from the official personnel files, for a period of 25 years.
      3. The results of completed background investigations for employees and volunteers will be recorded in the appropriate fields in the SAP system. Access to the data will be limited to authorized human resources personnel. A “yes” value will indicate a successful clearance, and a “no” value will indicate an absence of a clearance or an unsuccessful clearance. The records will also include the start and end validity dates of each clearance.
      4. The information compiled under this policy shall be confidential and shall not be subject to the act of February 14, 2008 (P.L. 6, No. 3), known as the Right-To-Know Law. This information shall not be released except as permitted by the department through regulation.
    9. Fees:
      1. The university will pay for all required background investigations for all current employees and for re-certifications during the term of employment.
      2. The university will pay for all required background investigations for candidates for employment, university volunteers, and employees of university affiliated entities recognized pursuant to Board of Governors Policy. The university reserves the right to change this practice with notice.
      3. The university will not bear any costs associated with independent contractors or students who need criminal background investigations for academic requirements under this policy.
    10. Fingerprinting: Fingerprinting required as part of the criminal background investigation can be provided by the Office of Human Resources or other authorized location.
    11. Provisional Employment or Appointment:
      1. All employment or volunteer candidates required to undergo criminal background investigations will be asked to sign a Provisional Employment/Volunteer form. Failure to sign the form will prevent the individual from being permitted to commence work or service until the clearances are received in the Office of Human Resources.
      2. The university may employ applicants on a provisional basis for a single period not to exceed 90 days and volunteers on a provisional basis not to exceed 30 days, if all of the following conditions are met:

        The applicant has submitted the appropriate forms for the criminal background investigation and the applicant provides a copy of the appropriate completed request forms to the Office of Human Resources.

        The employer, administrator, supervisor, or other person responsible for employment or appointment decisions at the university has no knowledge of information pertaining to the applicant as having been arrested or convicted of a reportable offense or been convicted of another offense that would disqualify the individual for employment or appointment.

        The applicant swears or affirms in writing that he/she has not been arrested or convicted of a reportable offense or been convicted of another offense that would disqualify the individual for employment or appointment.

        If the information obtained reveals that the applicant is disqualified from employment or appointment, the applicant shall be immediately dismissed.

        The applicant shall not be permitted to work alone with minors, and the applicant shall work in the immediate vicinity of a permanent employee.
    12. Effective Date: January 1, 2015
  • Human Resources Office
  • Sutton Hall, Room G8
    1011 South Drive
    Indiana, PA 15705
  • Phone: 724-357-2431
  • Fax: 724-357-2685
  • Office Hours
  • Monday through Friday
  • 8:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.