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Pennsylvania Department of Education

Federal Criminal History Background Checks (Fingerprints) ACT 114


As of December 1, 2008, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) will begin using new procedures for obtaining federal criminal history background checks of prospective public school and private school employees and their contractors.


This is a summary of changes and not intended to be a complete description of the process or requirements of law. The Department will continue to update its website with information on the new process including Questions and Answers.


The change in processing has been undertaken to improve the process to efficiently handle the high volume of federal criminal background checks requested each month. The new system is designed to turn around reports within two days, and will enable school administrators to review the reports electronically, for individuals who are fingerprinted on or after December 1, 2008. There is no change in procedure for individuals who were fingerprinted prior to December 1, 2008. Administrators will not be able to view online the reports of individuals who are fingerprinted prior to December 1, 2008. Applicants fingerprinted prior to December 1, 2008 will still present a watermarked, paper copy issued by PDE.


The new process does not change the basic provisions of the law regarding who is required to have a federal criminal history background check. As of April 1, 2007, under Act 114 of 2006, public and private schools have been required to review federal criminal history record information (CHRI) records of all prospective employees and independent contractors who will have contact with children, and make a determination regarding the fitness of the individual to have contact with children. The Act requires the report to be reviewed in a manner prescribed by PDE. The review of CHRI reports is required prior to employment, and includes school bus drivers and other employees hired by independent contractors who will have contact with children.


Following are details regarding the new process:

Applicant Registration. Applicants will still register in advance to be fingerprinted with Cogent Systems at this web address: Applicants may register and pay online or by phone (888-439-2486) and then proceed to be fingerprinted at any Cogent Systems site.  Money orders or  cashiers check will be accepted at the fingerprint site for those applicants who do not have the means to pay electronically.  Applicants who register on or after December 1, 2008 will be given a Registration ID # when they complete their application. Applicants must present this number to the hiring entity in order for the public or private school to access the report via the new electronic system.


Applicants registering on or after December 1st can receive a copy of their CHRI Report by indicating their desire to do so when they register. This will be the only opportunity for the applicant to request a paper copy of their CHRI. The fee for the background check for those who register on or after December 1, 2008, has been reduced to $36, however; if the applicant requests a paper copy of the report; it will cost an additional $2.50. The paper copy will not be regarded as the official report. However it will provide the applicant with a copy of the information that the school administrator will see when the report is reviewed.                                    


Fingerprint sites in this area are located at:


            PSU Police Services Center

            Eisenhower Parking Deck

            University Park, PA 16802

            (814) 863-1111


            Central Intermediate Unit #10

            345 Link Road

            West Decatur, Pennsylvania  16878

Bellefonte Area School District is an equal opportunity education institution and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex or handicap in its activities, programs or employment practices are required by Title VI, Title IX, and Section 504.