Background Checks

Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1: When did background checks begin?
Answer: October 1, 2000 for initial licensure
July 1, 2006 for renewals


Question 2: Who will be required to have a background check?

Answer: All initial and renewal applicants; teachers, coaches, administrators, paraeducators, anyone from out-of-state, substitutes, and behind-the-wheel authorizations


Question 3: What exactly is a background check?

Answer: A person signs a waiver allowing the Iowa State Division of Criminal Investigations and the Federal Bureau of Investigations to conduct a background check. An FBI fingerprint card is also submitted and sent to the FBI lab. The child abuse registry, sex offender registry, and the dependent adult abuse registry are all checked. The results of all the state and national criminal background checks are sent to the Board of Educational Examiners for review.


Question 4: If someone had an Iowa license, let it expire, and then decided to re-activate or renew the license, will a background check be required?

Answer: Yes, all initial applicants and renewal applicants.


Question 5: How much does it cost?

Answer: The total cost is $75 (as of July 1, 2015) for initial applications. These fees are in addition to the regular license and evaluation fees. There is no fee for a background check on a renewal application.


Question 6: Can the information found on either the DCI or the FBI be shared with a local school district?

Answer: No. The State of Iowa law prohibits the Board, or any authorized agency, to share this information with a third party.


Question 7: Should local school districts conduct their own background checks?

Answer: Yes. The Board of Educational Examiners conducts background checks for licensure only. Federal law allows school districts to conduct background checks, for example, for hiring purposes.


Question 8: Is it true that the results from the FBI fingerprints may take four to eight weeks?

Answer: Yes. In some instances, it may take longer.


Question 9: How will that affect the licensure application?

Answer: The DCI check is completed within a few days. However, the FBI results take longer. The Board has created and implemented a document called a "Temporary Permit". This one-page document allows a person to seek employment, interview, sign a contract, accept a position, and begin teaching or administering. The "Temporary Permit" will list the endorsements earned and expiration date. This permit will be good for 90 days. Upon successful review of the FBI results, the applicant will be issued a license/authorization/certificate.


Question 10: In what circumstances would a second Temporary Permit be issued by the Board?

Answer: It would be very unusual for the Board to issue a second Temporary Permit. However, a second Temporary Permit may be issued if 1) the FBI results take longer than 90 days, 2) the FBI cannot read the fingerprints and request a second set of fingerprint cards, 3) a person's fingerprints are essentially unreadable by the FBI and other measures may be implemented, or 4) other extenuating circumstances that need to be considered.


Question 11: When will the license be issued?

Answer: When all information has been processed except for the FBI background check, the Board will issue at Temporary Permit, which is good for 90 days. This Temporary Permit has the same authorization as a license. A person can present this Temporary Permit to a school district for employment or it can be used to verify Iowa licensure.

When the Board receives clearance from the FBI of an individual's national criminal history, a regular license will automatically be issued to the individual.


Question 12: Who reviews the criminal history records?

Answer: The Board's investigator, Executive Director, and the Board's legal counsel review them.


Question 13: What is the process for reviewing an applicant's criminal conviction history?

Answer: The Board looks for felonies, misdemeanors, and founded child abuse reports. As required in Iowa Code 272.2.14, the Board must consider the following: 1) the nature and seriousness of the founded abuse or crime in relation to the position sought, 2) the time elapsed since the founded abuse or crime was committed, 3) the degree of rehabilitation which has taken place since the incidence of founded abuse or commission of the crime, 4) the likelihood that the person will commit the same abuse or crime again, and 5) the number of founded abuses committed or criminal convictions by the person involved.


Question 14: Does an individual need to divulge criminal activity if it occurred when he/she was a minor?

Answer: It depends. If a minor is accused of criminal conduct and found guilty by a juvenile court, the finding is referred to as an "adjudication" rather than a "conviction". Technically, a juvenile adjudication is outside the Board's inquiry. In some circumstances, jurisdiction is transferred by the juvenile court and minors are charged and convicted as adults. In those cases, a "conviction" occurs, which must be disclosed. Whether an individual needs to divulge criminal activity when he/she was a minor depends upon whether the matter was considered by the juvenile or adult system. If juvenile court adjudication - no, if conviction in district court - yes.
Deferred judgments must also be disclosed. In 2003, the Iowa Supreme Court decided that an incident with a deferred judgment will be considered when making licensure decisions, because a deferred judgment is a conviction. The individual was either found guilty of, or pled guilty to the incident, and the incident must be disclosed. Although sentencing or penalty may not be imposed if the individual successfully completes the probation, a deferred judgment is still considered a conviction and must be disclosed.


Question 15: Does the Board review the answers to the criminal history questions provided by the applicant for possible fraud?

Answer: Yes. The Board examines the application to determine if the person answered the questions truthfully. If the applicant checked "yes" to any of the questions, the Board reviews the information provided by the applicant against the actual criminal history record. If the applicant checked "no" to any of the questions but was found to have a conviction, the application may be considered fraudulent and the application may be denied.


Question 16: Why would an applicant be denied a license, an authorization, or a certificate?

- The applicant failed to tell the truth

- The applicant's criminal history was serious enough to warrant a denial

- The applicant failed to provide the Board with additional information required by the Board

- The applicant provided a fraudulent license, transcript, or other official document

- The applicant's license, certification, or authorization from another state is suspended or revoked


Question 17: Is there an appeal process if the application is denied?

Answer: Yes. Iowa Code 272.7 states that the Executive Director may grant or deny license applications. The decision may be appealed by the practitioner to the Board.

Order a Fingerprint Packet