Ensuring Student Safety: Understanding Ohio’s Background Checks
By: Julia Simmerer
The vision of the Department’s Center for the Teaching Profession is that all students have access to qualified, effective educators in safe, nurturing learning environments. Requiring our licensed educators to submit to regular background checks is one of ways we can help ensure Ohio’s educators share that vision.
Our Office of Professional Conduct frequently receives questions about Ohio’s background check requirements for licensed educators. Navigating through statutory requirements can be tedious and does not always provide practical guidance. Licensed educators and those applying for a license for the first time want to know what background checks they need to complete and when they are required.
Before getting into the requirements, it may be helpful to define the different types of background checks. By background checks, we simply mean a fingerprint check. Fingerprints are forwarded to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCI) for processing, where they look at the applicant’s criminal history in Ohio. This is commonly referred to as a BCI check. BCI then forwards the fingerprints to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to check a person’s criminal history in all 50 states. This is commonly referred to as a FBI check.
The type(s) of fingerprint check(s) required is determined by whether the person is an initial applicant, renewing a license or permanent license holder.
A person applying for an initial license must complete both the BCI and FBI checks at the time the application is made. The checks must be no older than 365 days at the time they are used for initial licensure.
Renewing a License
Those renewing a license are only required to have an updated FBI check every five years, as long as the following two conditions are met: the person has previously completed a BCI check and the person has lived in Ohio for the last five years. If these conditions are not met, the applicant must complete both the BCI and FBI checks for their application. When the applicant submits to renew a license (and this applies to permanent license holders as well), the date the application is submitted determines whether the applicant has completed an FBI check within the preceding five years or whether the person needs to update that check.
Permanent License Holders
Any person who holds a permanent license is only required to have an updated FBI check every five years, as long as the person has previously completed a BCI check and has lived in Ohio for the last five years.
Hopefully this information provides a quick and easy to understand overview of background checks. If you want to explore this topic further, you can find detailed information about the process by clicking here.
Julia Simmerer is senior executive director of the Center for the Teaching Profession at the Ohio Department of Education, where she oversees the implementation of policies and programs that support Ohio’s teacher and leader corps. You can learn more about Julia by clicking here.
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