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Can I Become a Teacher with a Criminal Record?

August 31, 2017

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  • If you’re concerned that a criminal record may keep you from being a teacher – you still have options. Believe it or not, under the right circumstances, an individual with a criminal record can become a teaching professional. Most can agree that teachers are constantly shaping the lives of generations to come, and it’s a controversial topic to discuss hiring teachers with a criminal record. Accordingly, teachers are more carefully screened during criminal background checks than most professionals. Screening teachers is important for parents to feel they can trust school boards, and to ensure a safe and positive learning environment for their children. The pathway to becoming a teacher with a criminal record can depend on the honesty of the applicant. There may still be a chance, depending on the nature of the crime.

    When applying for any job, a criminal record can seriously complicate the process. Maybe you’re familiar with this after going to college with a criminal record. It’s safe to assume that a criminal history certainly doesn’t make your chances of landing a job any easier. Furthermore, teaching positions – or any job which involves children – almost always require a rigorous background check. Hiring is performed by local school districts that adhere to state regulations on teacher certification. Take note that there is a consistent list of crimes that would disqualify an individual as a teaching candidate. First or second-degree felonies are serious in the eyes of school boards and local communities. As such, usually nothing can be done to correct those offenses.

    What can be done?

    Recently, some university faculty members have complained about background checks being too intrusive. As such, people have debated the policies concerning privacy, and how it’s affected by the screening tools used in schools. Probably your best option in trying to become a teacher with a criminal record is seeking an expungement or record seal. In most states, serious crimes that involve violent or sexual offenses cannot be removed. There are a few other requirements to be eligible, which may consist of the number of offenses or the time since they occurred. For example, misdemeanor and felony convictions may not be eligible for sealing until several years have passed from the completion of a sentence. However, these legal requirements will always vary by state.

    Regardless, it’s always recommended to be honest and forthcoming about an issue when applying for any job. Perhaps your criminal event was from many years ago, or maybe your record has already been sealed or expunged. It’s far better to own your past mistakes than to be dishonest or worry about skeletons coming out of your closet. Do not try to omit criminal record information, unless of course it’s been expunged.* Any false information will eventually be exposed using a fingerprint background check or having your social security number searched through a national database. Moreover, you could lose any credibility for obtaining a job in the future.

    Get Informed

    The guidelines for teachers vary by state. Texas residents can check the Texas Education Agency site for information regarding applicants with a criminal record. If you’re concerned about a criminal record and want to become a teacher, check your state and local school board policy. Or, consult an attorney to discuss your options for sealing or expunging your criminal record. A clean record can greatly increase your chances of getting a job or achieving a steady income. See our website for more information on passing a background check, or to see if you qualify for criminal record removal.

    *The term “expungement” has different legal implications that vary by state. See your local laws or consult an attorney for more information.

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