Good Moral Character Review
The Department of Education is required by law to only issue Pennsylvania certificates to applicants who possess good moral character. (24 P.S. § 1209, 22 Pa. Code § 49.12.) The good moral character requirement applies to all applicants for any certification or permit type including applicants for Level II certification.
Good moral character reviews are required when an applicant answers yes to at least one of the series of background questions listed in Section IV of the certification application (PDE 338 G form) but may also be initiated based upon independent information obtained by the Department. Application instructions which are available on the Department’s website and included in the instruction booklet, set forth the necessary information that an applicant must submit if a good moral character review is required. Regardless of what triggers the good moral character review, all applicants reviewed for good moral character may be asked to submit some or all of the following additional information:
· A signed letter or statement of explanation
· A current resume
· Documentation related to any discipline imposed
· Certified court documents of a criminal matter, if applicable
· A current and original FBI clearance
· A current and original Pa criminal background check
· A current and original PA child abuse clearance
· 5 letters of reference, (3 of which must be professional)
· A letter from a probation/parole officer, if applicable.
This information is then reviewed by the Deputy Secretary for the Office of Post-Secondary and Higher Education. The Deputy Secretary makes the good moral character determination for the Department. In making this decision, the Deputy Secretary reviews the submitted documentation in consideration of the following:
· The Nature of the Conduct
o Did the conduct involve sexual, physical, verbal or emotional abuse?
o Was there a criminal arrest, charge and/or conviction?
o Was the crime violent/sexual or otherwise serious crime?
o Was the conduct an isolated single event or repeated action?
o Did the conduct occur on school property?
o Did it involve a student or child?
o Was conduct associated with educator’s position within the school system?
o Does the conduct suggest applicant is a threat to the welfare and safety of students?
o What was the age and education at the time of the conduct?
o What is the applicant’s current age?
o How recent or remote is the conduct?
o Any evidence of other related conduct?
· Applicant’s Current Attitude towards the Past Conduct
o Did the applicant acknowledge the conviction or conduct on the application?
o Did the applicant adequately and reasonably explain the circumstances surrounding the conduct and his/her involvement in the conduct?
o Did the applicant take responsibility and demonstrate accountability?
o What are the applicant’s feelings or opinions about the conduct?
o Has there been positive change in attitude from what existed at the time of the conduct?
· Applicant’s Rehabilitative Efforts
o Did the applicant serve any criminal sentence, pay restitution, complete any and all probationary/parole period and/or successfully complete an accelerated rehabilitative program (ARD) if admitted into such a program?
o What is the parole or probation officer’s opinion?
o Was any action taken by applicant’s employer?
o If conduct included drugs or alcohol, did the applicant demonstrate abstinence from such further conduct and or complete court appointed or voluntary drugs or alcohol treatment?
o Does the applicant have adequate intervention and support systems in order to maintain recovery efforts?
o What actions were taken by the applicant to prevent any reoccurrence of conduct?
o What do the applicant’s professional and or personal references say about the educator?
o Has the applicant given personal assurances of a desire to conduct his/herself accordingly in the future?
o Does the applicant have articulated career goals?
o Is the applicant currently employed?
o Does applicant currently hold a teaching certificate in Pa or any other state?
o Any community service or volunteer work?
PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT FOR APPLICANTS WHO HAVE COMMITTED A CRIME RESULTING IN PLACEMENT IN AN ACCELERATED REHABILITATIVE DISPOSITION (ARD) PROGRAM OR WHO HAVE BEEN CONVICTED OF A CRIME RESULTING IN PROBATION OR PAROLE AND HAVE NOT YET FULLY COMPLETED ARD, PROBATION OR PAROLE, THERE IS A STRONG PRESUMPTION THAT THE APPLICANT CURRENTLY LACKS GOOD MORAL CHARACTER TO RECEIVE A PENNSYLVANIA CERTIFICATE.
If after review by the Deputy Secretary, an applicant is denied certification for failure to provide sufficient evidence of good moral character, the applicant may seek reconsideration of the determination to the Secretary of Education. (See: Certification Appeal Process)