New Pennsylvania Laws Require Teachers to Report Arrests including DUI

Teachers around Pennsylvania are facing a peculiar situation.  New laws will result in teachers being ineligible for prospective employment for certain DUI Offenses. The new law calls for a three (3) year ineligibility period for a prospective employee convicted of a second DUI if it is graded as a misdemeanor of the first degree.  Any second offense DUI where the driver’s BAC is above .16% or a refusal of chemical test,  and any third or subsequent DUI offense with a BAC of .10% or higher (or an accident is involved) is graded as a misdemeanor of the first degree and punishable by up to five years.

New Laws Require Teachers and School Staff to Report DUI Arrests
New Laws Require Teachers and School Staff to Report DUI Arrests

For example: In 2009 an individual is convicted of a second DUI while their BAC was .17% and received a sentence of 5 years intermediate punishment.  That person would be ineligible for prospective employment in a school until 2017 – the 2009 sentence expires in 2014 at which point the three year ineligibility period begins to run.

The new law as it applies to DUI only renders a prospective employee ineligible for employment. This means that the law does not impose an automatic period of ineligibility on current employees. However, the fact that a DUI is not offense that requires an automatic period of ineligibility for current employees should be of little comfort to employees with qualifying DUI’s. As a practical matter, it is still probable that they could be subjected to the ineligibility provisions.

The new law states that nothing shall interfere with a schools ability to make employment, discipline, or termination decisions. Accordingly, the school is free to terminate a current employee because of a DUI. In which case, the employee would then be seeking prospective employment. Therefore, because a prospective employee is ineligible for three years from the expiration of their sentence for a qualifying DUI, the terminated employee would not be able to gain new employment at a school until the period of ineligibility ended. Additionally, current teachers with a qualifying DUI would not be able to move to a new school district under any circumstances until the completion of their period of eligibility.

The new law requires a standardized form to be completed that indicates whether the employee has been convicted of certain offenses. DUI is not one of the offenses required to be reported. However, school employees should be aware that each individual school district is still free to set their own policies regarding whether the DUI should be reported. Additionally, employees should be aware that they will be required that they will be required to submit criminal history record information from the Pennsylvania State Police with their application for employment. The only prospective employees exempt from this requirement are current employees seeking to transfer to another school in the same district, diocese or religious judicatory or established and supervised by the same organization.

As applied to DUI, the main problem is the uncertainty surrounding what will happen to those who do have a prior conviction.  As applied to DUI, the law is far-reaching and absurd in that it not only includes teachers but school staff and even contractors.  This means janitors, workers for the landscaping and snow removal companies will also have to report. It also means that independent contractors and their employees are included unless they have no direct contact with children.

New Pennsylvania law requires public, private school employees to disclose arrests, convictions of serious crimes

What happens in Vegas no longer stays in Vegas for anyone who works at a school in Pennsylvania.

All public and private school employees now must come clean to their boss — and the state Department of Education — about any arrests or convictions of serious crimes. It’s required under a new law that took effect Sept. 28.

The law expands the list of crimes that permanently disqualify people from school employment. While homicide and drug convictions have been on the list, crimes such as sexual assault and luring a child now lead to a lifetime ban.

Previously, these offenses only prohibited a prospective employee from getting a job at a school for five years after his or her sentence was completed.

In addition, anyone with two convictions of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is barred from school employment for three years.

The law applies to teachers, administrators, support staff, student teachers and contractors who work at a school.

While the safety of our children should be our first priority, these laws could end the employment of many hard working people who pose no threat at all, all for the sake of DUI. The hypocrisy of making DUI an offense that could lead to ineligibility can be best illustrated by examining some of the offenses that were not included. The new law does not render an employee ineligible for a conviction for Furnishing Alcohol to Minors or Possession of a Controlled Substance including hard drugs such as heroin, crack, and cocaine even if the employee possessed the substance on school grounds. Additionally, the new law does not render a teacher ineligible for employment when that person is convicted for Failing to Report Abuse as required by law. As many of you are aware this is the offense that two Penn State administrators are charged with in the nationally publicized Jerry Sandusky scandal.

If you are a teacher who has questions in this regard, please call 1-866-MCSHANE.

Justin McShane

PA DUI attorney Justin J. McShane is the President/CEO of The McShane Firm, LLC - Pennsylvania's top criminal law and DUI law firm. He is the highest rated DUI attorney in PA as rated by Justin McShane is a double Board certified attorney. He is the first and so far the only Pennsylvania attorney to achieve American Bar Association recognized board certification in DUI defense from the National College for DUI Defense, Inc. He is also a Board Certified Criminal Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Approved Agency.

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