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Senate Bill 9 Frequently Asked Questions

 

Texas Education Code (TEC), Chapter 22, Subchapter C

Who is required by TEC Chapter 22, Subchapter C to submit fingerprint information to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)?
A. All certified educators ((those holding an educator certification issued by the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC))
B. All classroom substitute teachers and aides, whether certified or not
C. Noncertified employees hired by a district on or after 1/1/08
D. Charter school employees, whether certified or not, who are working in a teaching or professional position that would require certification if they were employed in a traditional school district.
E. Contracted employees hired by on or after 1/1/08 who have direct contact with students

 

What kind of criminal history review is required for persons not subject to the fingerprinting requirements of SB 9?
TEC Chapter 22, Subchapter C requires that the following types of school employees and volunteers must have a name-based background check. These employees are not required to be fingerprinted, are not reviewed by TEA or SBEC, and may not be found in the DPS Clearinghouse.
A. Noncertified employees hired before 1/1/08
B. Contracted employees hired before 1/1/08 who have direct contact with students
C. Student teachers
D. Volunteers, unless they are
    a) a parent or guardian of a student,
    b) accompanied on campus by a district employee, or
    c) volunteering for a single event.

 

What if my district has already fingerprinted some or all of its employees, or if the employee has been fingerprinted for another purpose, or in another state?
TEC Chapter 22, Subchapter C requires that school employees be fingerprinted in a way that their national criminal histories can be reported and updated through the DPS clearinghouse. Unfortunately, it is not possible for TEA to access fingerprint data that was initiated through another agency. Therefore, even if school employees that have previously been fingerprinted by another agency, for another purpose, or in another state, the employee will have to be fingerprinted again so that their criminal history and updates can be accessed and reviewed by TEA.

What if an employee of the school district is required to be fingerprinted as a day care worker or law enforcement officer?
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) have received permission from the Texas Department of Public Safety (TxDPS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to share national criminal history background information for day care workers employed by a school district.
If a newly hired district employee is assigned to work in a child care center operated by the school district, and is required to be fingerprinted by DFPS for that purpose, TEA will not require that employee to be fingerprinted a second time as a newly hired non-certified employee, pursuant to Texas Education Code 22.0833(h). The school day care employee must have been fingerprinted by DFPS as a consequence of employment with the school district to be exempt from the second printing that is normally required by TEA. In other words, this exception does not apply to any school daycare employee that is not also an employee of the school district. If the day care employee transfers to a role within the district that requires certification, such as an educational aide or a teacher, the person would be required to submit fingerprints as is required for any applicant for certification. This exception does not apply to any fingerprinting or criminal history review other than that required by DFPS for child care workers.

Process for Fingerprinting law enforcement officers:
If the employee is a non-SBEC certified district employee hired on or after 1/1/08, they will be required to complete fingerprinting in accordance with the process and guidelines for SBEC, TEA and DPS. DPS has advised that FBI rules prevent it from using fingerprints submitted for another purpose to satisfy the requirements of TEC Chapter 22, Subchapter C. If the employee was employed by the district prior to 1/1/08, a DPS or private name-based check is required.

What is the DPS Clearinghouse?
The DPS FACT Clearinghouse is a database containing the national criminal history record information of Texas school employees. It contains fingerprints, photos, and other identification that enables the employing school district and TEA and/or SBEC to have positive identification and to have access to the employee’s current national criminal history record information. It also provides the employing school district or charter school updates of an employee’s subsequent criminal history.

 

How is information in the DPS Clearinghouse made available to districts?
The district that originally uploads employees to TEA/SBEC is automatically subscribed to that particular person’s record in the Clearinghouse. If that person leaves a district, the district must unsubscribe from that person’s Clearinghouse record so that the district longer receives criminal history updates. If another district hires that employee, the new district subscribes to that employee’s criminal history. More than one district may be subscribed to a person at any one time, since, for example, substitute teachers often work for several different districts at a time. Subscribing and unsubscribing is done through the DPS Clearinghouse and does not involve a fee, although there is a fee of $1.00 for obtaining subsequent criminal history reports after the initial one.

When are school employees and substitute teachers required to be fingerprinted?
All employees, both certified and non-certified, as well as substitute teachers, that have not previously been fingerprinted through the TEA process, must be fingerprinted before their first day of employment.

 

Are professionals employed by schools who hold a license issued by some organization or agency other than SBEC required to be fingerprinted?
Professionals such as speech therapists, physical therapists, athletic trainers, psychologists and nurses do not usually hold an educator certification from SBEC to work in public schools. Therefore, for purposes of TEC Chapter 22, Subchapter C, they are considered non-certified employees (unless they happen to also have an SBEC-issued educator certification), and should be fingerprinted as such.

How does the fingerprinting process work for noncertified employees hired on or after 1/1/08?
Basically, a district uploads the name and other required information for all non-certified employees hired on or after 1/1/08 to TEA/SBEC. The district is then sent a FAST Fingerprint Pass authorization form for that employee. The employee and/or the district pays the fingerprint and criminal history review fees of $49.45 by scheduling a fingerprinting appointment with the DPS digital fingerprint vendor, MorphoTrust USA (formerly L-1 Enrollment Services).

  

Where does a school employee go to get fingerprinted?
The employee’s fingerprints must be submitted in a digital format that can be processed by DPS. Because of the complexity of technology, network, and security issues, DPS currently has an exclusive contract with MorphoTrust USA, to collect and transmit all digital fingerprint information for licensing purposes. MorphoTrust USA has more than 80 locations throughout the state. A list of those locations can be found on the MorphoTrust USA website, or by contacting MorphoTrust USA at 888-467-2080.

 

Are employees and substitute teachers eligible to start work before the fingerprint process is complete or must the district wait until the results are final?
At the discretion of the employing district or charter school, employees and substitute teachers may begin work after submitting their fingerprints, but their continued employment is contingent on the results of the criminal history report. As long as they have submitted their fingerprints to MorphoTrust USA, the DPS approved vendor, they may begin working for a district.

Will employees receive confirmation that their fingerprints have been submitted as required by SB 9?
The DPS vendor, MorphoTrust USA, provides a receipt after a person’s fingerprints have been scanned. Employees should keep their receipts until their fingerprint process is completed. SBEC /TEA suggests that districts ask employees to submit their receipt to the district as proof that they have submitted their fingerprints. SBEC/TEA does not have copies of these receipts.

What standards will TEA apply when deciding employability for noncertified individuals based on their criminal history?
Sec. 22.085(a) of the Texas Education Code applies to all public school employees. For noncertified employees, this very narrow standard is the sole basis for TEA review. The district’s standards for employment will probably be much higher. Sec. 22.085(a) provides that a public school entity must discharge or refuse to hire an employee or applicant if:
A. the employee or applicant has been convicted of: 
    a) a felony offense under Title 5, Penal Code (Offenses Against the Person);
    b) an offense on conviction of which a defendant is required to register as a sex offender under Chapter 62, Code of Criminal Procedure; or 
    c) an offense under the laws of another state or federal law that is equivalent to an offense under Paragraph (A) or (B); and
B. at the time the offense occurred, the victim of the offense was under 18 years of age or was enrolled in a public school.

What is the criminal history review process for charter schools?
Charter schools employees are required to submit fingerprint information in the same manner as school districts.
A. The following charter school employees are required to be fingerprinted:
      a) Charter school employees, whether certified or not, who are working in a teaching or professional position that would require certification if they were employed in a traditional school district,      
      b) All classroom substitute teachers and aides, whether certified or not,
      c) Non-certified employees (working in a non-certified role) hired by a district on or after 1/1/08, 
      d) Contracted employees hired on or after 1/1/08 who have direct contact with students
B. Charter schools are required to obtain name-based criminal history information of all their non-certified employees hired before 1/1/08 in the same manner as traditional school districts.

What is required for contracted employees of a school district or charter school?
TEC Chapter 22, Subchapter C directs school district contractors/subcontractors to obtain state and national criminal history background searches on their employees hired after 1/1/08 who have continuing duties related to the contract, and direct contact with students. Those results must be received through the DPS Clearinghouse.

In order for contractors/subcontractors to receive the information through the Clearinghouse, they must first contact DPS for FACT Clearinghouse access. The contractor/subcontractor must sign all appropriate agreements with DPS. To obtain the agreements and more information, school contractors should contact:

Access and Dissemination Bureau

Texas Department of Public Safety

Crime Records Service

P.O. Box 149322

Austin, TX 78714-9322

Email: FACT@dps.texas.gov

Phone: (512) 424-2365 Option # 2

 

Page last modified on 4/12/2013 09:26:18 AM.