In September, 2011, a new law was passed which will protect students even more than the past law. Under this new law, a teacher who has been convicted of a crime linked with violence or sex will be barred from school employment. This, of course, is a positive thing for students and others within the school. In the past, the law had stated that a person could be employed by a school if the crime was older than 5 years. It appears that this latest addendum will eliminate any possibilities of this type of person becoming a teacher.
The “prohibited offenses list” has increased to include luring children into vehicles, having illegal contact with minors, and soliciting drugs to minors. Maeiello Brungo and Maiello, LLP (MB&M), a legal firm in the Pittsburgh area, has also published the following:
“The new amendments also expand the prohibition from school employment to include any felony conviction (other than the listed offenses) that is less than ten (10) years old and any first degree misdemeanor conviction which is less than five (5) years old. For a second offense of DUI or drug offenses graded as a first degree misdemeanor, a person is ineligible for school employment for a period of three (3) years following the expiration of their sentence. Taken together, these amendments to the School Code significantly broaden the circumstances under which individuals with criminal records will be disqualified from school employment.”
The Pennsylvania State Education Association had directed all members to submit the form that was part of the reporting requirement as set by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. They have also committed themselves to assisting members as the reporting requirements go forward.
The law provides that “employees must report arrests and convictions for Section 111(3), Act 24 crimes within 72 hours to their employers or risk termination, along with pension forfeiture.” (PSEA Voice, January, 2012 issue)
It is very important that all students preparing to be teachers and graduates who are entering the job force in schools be informed about this latest law. For more information, check out the links below:
www.psea.org (search “Act 24”)
(law firm in Pittsburgh area)
(Pennsylvania Department of Education publication – PDE)
Donna Hupe teaches ED 101 – Field Experience I and has been a Pre-Student Teacher/Student Teacher Supervisor at Saint Vincent College for the past five and a half years.