Regulations for Criminal History/FBI Clearances

Act 114 of 2006, Section 111 of the Public School Code was amended effective April 1, 2007. All student teachers (participating in classroom teaching, internships, clinical or field experience) and prospective employees (including but not limited to administrators, teachers, substitutes, janitors, cafeteria workers, office employees) of public and private schools, Intermediate Units and area vocational-technical schools, including independent contractors and their employees and bus drivers, who have direct contact with children, must provide to their employer a copy of their Federal Criminal History Record that cannot be more than one (1) year old. This only applies to employees hired on or after April 1, 2007. Employees hired prior to April 1, 2007, are only required to provide the Federal Criminal History record if they have lived outside of the state for at least two years immediately preceding their application for employment.

Implementation Timeline

PDE contracted with Cogent Systems to manage this program for the Commonwealth. The management process includes establishing a website, manning a help desk, and establishing fixed site locations for the taking of and transmitting of applicants' fingerprints. These services will be operational on Friday, March 30, 2007.

The Process

The fingerprint-based background check is a multiple-step process:

  1. The applicant must register prior to going to the fingerprint site. Walk in service without prior registration will not be provided at any fingerprinting location. Registration is completed online or over the phone. Registration is available online 24 hours/day, seven days per week at Telephonic registration is available at 1-888-439-2486 Monday through Friday, 8am to 6pm EST. During the registration process, all demographic data for the applicant is collected (name, address, SSN, etc.) so there is no data entry required at the fingerprint collection site.
  2. The applicant will pay a fee of $40.00 for the fingerprint service and to secure the Criminal History Record. Applicants may make their payment online at using a credit card or debit card. Money orders or cashiers checks payable to Cogent Systems will be accepted on site for those applicants who do not have the means to pay electronically. No cash transactions or personal checks are allowed.
  • Cogent Systems will also establish a billing procedure for these services from an appropriate requesting agency that is willing to pay the applicant's fee. Billing may only occur after the requesting agency has completed the Cogent Systems' Agency Pay Agreement. To establish a billing account visit the website and download an application. The billing account must be established prior to sending applicants to the fingerprint site.
  1. The applicant proceeds to the fingerprint site of their choice for fingerprinting. The location of the fingerprint sites and days and hours of operation for each site will be posted on Cogent Systems' website at The location of fingerprint sites may change over time so applicants are encouraged to confirm the site location nearest to their location.

Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE)

FBI Federal Criminal History Records of Prospective Employees

March 12, 2007

  1. At the fingerprint site the Applicant Livescan Operators (ALO) manage the fingerprint collection process.
  2. The fingerprint transaction begins when the ALO reviews the applicant's qualified State or Federal photo ID before processing the applicant's transaction. A list of approved ID types may be found on the Cogent Systems' website at Applicants will not be processed if they cannot produce an acceptable photo ID.
  3. After the identity of the applicant has been established, all ten fingers are scanned to complete the process. The entire fingerprint capture process should take no more than three to five minutes.
  4. The applicant's scanned fingerprints will be electronically transmitted to the Pennsylvania State Police, who in turn submits the fingerprints and demographic information to the FBI as required by federal statute.
  5. PDE will receive the Federal Criminal History Record from the FBI. PDE's School Services Unit will return the Federal Criminal History Record to the applicant. The Record will be printed on standard 8.5&" X 11&" paper with the Commonwealth Seal imbedded on the paper. This document constitutes an official Record. If an applicant presents their Federal Criminal History Record and the Commonwealth Seal is not embedded on the paper, it should be considered as invalid and not an official Record. If the applicant does not receive the Criminal History Record from PDE within eight weeks after being fingerprinted, they should call (717) 783-3750 or email PDE at [email protected].
  6. The applicant will then provide the Federal Criminal History Record to their prospective employer.

** The Act allows that Administrators may employ any applicants on a provisional basis for a single period not to exceed ninety (90) days, except during a lawful strike proceeding under the provisions of the act of July 23, 1970, known as the "Public Employee Relations Act&", provided that all of the following conditions are met:

  • The applicant has applied for the information required under subsection (b) and, where applicable, under subsection (c) or (c.1) and the applicant provides a copy of the appropriate completed request forms to the Administrator
  • The Administrator has no knowledge of information pertaining to the applicant which would disqualify them from employment pursuant to subsection (e)
  • The applicant swears or affirms in writing that they are not disqualified from employment pursuant to subsection (e)
  • If the information obtained pursuant to subsection (b), (c), or (c1) reveals that the applicant is disqualified from employment pursuant to subsection (e), the applicant shall be suspended and subject to termination proceedings as provided for by law
  • The Administrator requires that the applicant not be permitted to work alone with children and that the applicant work in the vicinity of a permanent employee.

Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE)

FBI Federal Criminal History Records of Prospective Employees

March 12, 2007

Fingerprint Corrections and Resubmissions

In circumstances where a classifiable fingerprint record was not or cannot be obtained and immediately upon indication, Cogent Systems will take corrective action to re-submit, or re-print the applicant at no cost to the applicant. This corrective action will be completed at the earliest possible time, and when applicable, that is convenient for the applicant. Cogent Systems will contact the applicant directly should this occur. NOTE: Reprinting can be applied to each applicant one time only. If fingerprinting must take place a third time the applicant must pay the full fee.

Group Fingerprinting Support

If you have a requirement to fingerprint a large group of applicants (300 college education majors, a contractor's entire staff of 120 employees, 50 bus drivers, etc.) Cogent Systems and the fixed site providers will try to accommodate that request. Some fingerprint service sites have the ability to bring portable equipment to your site. If you are in need of Group Fingerprinting Support, visit Service sites in your area that have mobile equipment will be listed. NOTE: This mobile service requires the visited site to provide broadband internet access and access through any firewall. The sites that offer mobile services can provide you instructions, in advance of their visit, that would allow fingerprinting to occur at your site. You must however, plan ahead. Requirements for hosting a mobile Livescan operation can be found at

We encourage you to utilize this service but you must plan ahead. Please do not overwhelm the service by sending large groups of applicants to the fixed site locations. If you must send your large group of applicants to a fixed site, please plan for their arrival to occur over days and weeks, not over hours.

Confidentiality (Security) of Applicant Information

On-site access to the Livescan equipment, and the data traveling from the equipment, is comprehensively secured and regulated by both Cogent Systems and the regulations governing the use of that data.

  • The Computer System - The system will be housed within a secured network that is protected by firewall devices configured explicitly to allow only permissible protocols and traffic. Cogent Systems will ensure that all devices procured under this process continue to adhere to the Commonwealth's Security requirements. The proposed systems will be configured to provide a point of defense with controlled access from both inside and outside the network. The Livescan systems will be configured to support logging and audit capability. Furthermore, the Livescan solution will support 128 bit encryption.

Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE)

FBI Federal Criminal History Records of Prospective Employees

March 12, 2007

Inquiries or Questions

All information regarding process, policy, and fingerprinting locations may be found at

Fingerprint Services Sites should contact Blake Godard at [email protected]

Fingerprint applicants should contact Denise Wolfgang at (717) 783-3750 or [email protected]