So after all your years of hard work, you have finally managed to gain admission into one of West Chester University’s esteemed education programs, but one night out in the borough ends with you waking up in Public Safety. Does this mean the end of you teaching career, or even your time at WCU? Below is an interview with Dr. George Drake, Associate Dean for Curriculum and Accreditation, in the College of Education, where you can find out what happens when you, the law, and alcohol run into trouble.
Q: What kinds of background checks are required for students who are Education Majors?
A: Teacher education candidates must have initial background checks (PA Criminal History Record, Federal Criminal History Report and Child Abuse Clearance) prior to the start of their first field experience. This can be as early as first year at WCU.
Obtaining up-to-date criminal clearances for later field experience is not required by the state, but may be requested by specific school districts.
The reports become part of the student candidate’s application and will be made available to school districts.
Q: What happens if I have a criminal history?
A: Persons who have a criminal history report that includes a conviction in the prior 5 years for Title 18 offenses are prohibited by law from employment (criminal homicide, aggravated assault, harassment/stalking, rape, sexual assault, corruption of minors are a few of these convictions.) Teacher Education candidates convicted of any of these offenses will be removed from teacher education programs.
Q: What happens if I have an alcohol related violation, like an underage or public drunkenness?
A: The Professional Education Unit (PEU) will not prohibit otherwise qualified students from field experience and student teaching if convicted of crimes other than those outlined. This includes misdemeanors and summary offenses. Many alcohol related violations such as underage possession or consumption, public drunkenness, and disorderly conduct are summary offenses.
Candidates with those convictions must sign a Statement of Understanding stating that a candidate with a conviction history (including summary offenses and misdemeanors) may be considered a less desirable candidate by a potential employer. Each year about a dozen students are required to sign this statement.
In certain districts candidates with alcohol related violations are at a greater risk of not being selected.
WCU has always been able to find placement for otherwise qualified students.
Q: Does the College of Education “throw out” students who have had alcohol related violations?
A: In the past five years no student has been asked by the Dean of the College of Education (who is also the Head of the Professional Education Unit) to leave teacher education due to alcohol related violations.
Some students elect to change majors due to circumstances that may interfere with placement or employment.
Again, in certain districts candidates with alcohol related violations are at a greater risk of not being selected.
To see the entire policy link on the online edition or search criminal clearance policy on the internet.
Spencer Wright is a peer educator at the Wellness Center.