Secretary Of Education Access to Criminal Records Statute
- Title 16, Chapter 5, Subchapter 4 - Department of Education, Approved and Recognized Independent Schools
Criminal Record Check Procedure For Obtaining Vermont Crime Information Center (VCIC) and FBI Criminal History Record Information
Criminal conviction information must be requested from VCIC, other states, and the FBI under the following conditions:
- By the Commissioner of Education for any person applying for an initial license as a professional educator or for any person who is offered a position as a superintendent of schools in Vermont.
- By a superintendent or headmaster for: 1) any person recommended for any full-time, part-time, or temporary employment; 2) any person directly under contract to an independent school or school district who may have unsupervised contact with school children; 3) any student teacher
- By a superintendent or headmaster on behalf of a contractor.
Criminal conviction information may be requested from VCIC, other states, and the FBI under the following conditions:
- By a superintendent or headmaster for any volunteer working within the school or district. (Must use Vulnerable Populations or National Child Protection Act procedures. You MAY NOT request a background check on a volunteer via the Title 16 procedure.)
The Commissioner and any superintendent or headmaster must sign a User Agreement with VCIC which requires the requestor to comply with all federal and state laws, rules, regulations, and policies regulating the release of criminal record information and the protection of individual privacy. User Agreements must be signed by the Commissioner, superintendent, or headmaster on whose behalf criminal record information is being requested.
The Commissioner, superintendent or headmaster will be required to obtain and keep on file a release form signed by the applicant authorizing the release of his/her criminal history to the requestor.
Note: This document will not be forwarded to VCIC, but maintained by the requesting department.** The applicant should be required to sign the release form in the presence of a Department, District, or School official.
The applicant’s signature should be verified against one or more pieces of identification. Out of state applicants who are unable to sign the release form in the presence of a school official must have the release notarized. A raised notary seal is required.
Fingerprint Authorization Certificate (FAC)
To obtain criminal history record information from VCIC, the Commissioner, superintendent or headmaster must provide the applicant with a signed fingerprint authorization certificate (FAC) which shall include the applicant’s name and date of birth (including maiden names and aliases) which have been verified by at least two pieces of identification – preferably photo identifications. Included on the FAC should be a list of jurisdictions where there is reason to believe the applicant has resided or been employed. In order for the applicant to receive a FAC, the applicant shall have paid the Commissioner, Superintendent, or Headmaster the fee for the record check. Record check fees are as follows: $13.25 for an Education record check, and $11.25 for a fingerprint supported volunteer record check. Please note that the fee for the record check will be separate from the fee payable to the Fingerprint Identification Center for the service of taking an applicant’s fingerprints.
The applicant must take the FAC with them to their fingerprint appointment. The FAC will be forwarded to VCIC by the Fingerprint Identification Center. Vermont applicants should be directed to get their fingerprints taken at the most convenient county Identification Center. Out of state applicants may have their fingerprints taken in their home jurisdiction, however the fingerprints must be taken on the approved FBI Applicant fingerprint card. See Applicant Fingerprint Acceptance Policy in Forms. Should the Commissioner, Superintendent, or Headmaster have applicants that are being fingerprinted out of state, please contact VCIC for an FAC which will include instructions for the out of state criminal justice agency. The applicant should be prepared to provide the agency with a self addressed 9x11 envelope with appropriate postage, addressed to VCIC so that the agency can mail the fingerprint card directly to VCIC without folding it.
It is recommended that the Commissioner, superintendent, or headmaster contact the Identification Center to which they intend to refer applicants to agree on a protocol, since most Centers only take applicant fingerprints at appointed times. Most Centers require an appointment. The applicant will need at least two pieces of identification – one of which must be valid photo identification. The other should contain the current signature of the applicant. A birth certificate or social security card may not be valid at all Identification Centers. The centers may charge up to $25 for this service, payable to the Identification Center at the time of fingerprinting.
Criminal History Log
The Department, superintendent, or headmaster should complete the Criminal History Log with:
- Date of Request;
- Name and Date of Birth of the applicant;
- Name of the staff person who processed the request;
- the type of request submitted (Title 16, NCPA, VP)
Upon receipt of the FAC and fingerprints from the Fingerprint Identification Centers VCIC will process the request for criminal history checks according to the following procedures:
Vermont Criminal Record Check
- Schools are encouraged to access Vermont conviction records on applicants by visiting the online service.
- A Vermont criminal conviction check will be conducted on each applicant. If the Vermont record check uncovers a conviction, the criminal conviction record will be returned to the requesting agency.
- Unless the record check was conducted on behalf of a contractor, the Commissioner, superintendent, or headmaster should forward a copy of the record to the applicant along with a notification in writing regarding:
- Their respective policy regarding maintenance and destruction of records
- The person’s right to request that the record or notice of no record be maintained for purposes of using it to comply with future record check requests;
- That they have the right to challenge the accuracy of the record by appealing to VCIC within 30 days.
- When a request is made on behalf of a contractor, the requesting agency shall inform the contractor in writing whether or not a record exists. If a record exists, the specific nature of the record will NOT be disclosed to the contractor. The contractor shall then forward a copy of the notification to the applicant along with the notice relating to the requesting agency’s record check policies.
Out of State Records
Before the release form is returned to the requesting agency, a query will be made of any additional state(s) noted on the Fingerprint Authorization Certificate complete by the applicant.
At this point in the process, the applicant’s fingerprint cards and FAC will be screened by VCIC to determine if the information required on the card has been completed correctly. If there is an error regarding required information, VCIC will return the FAC and Fingerprint Error Memo to the requesting agency. If fingerprints are returned by the FBI as illegible the Fingerprint Authorization Certificate (FAC) and Fingerprint Error Memo will be returned to the requesting agency. The requesting agency is responsible for completing a new FAC to be submitted with rejection materials to the applicant. The applicant will provide ALL paperwork to the fingerprinting agency. There is no fee for reprinting at the Identification Center where the fingerprints were originally taken. If the applicant chooses to go to a different Identification Center for fingerprinting, they should expect to pay an additional fee up to $25.
Applicant fingerprints received in VCIC will be forwarded electronically to the FBI for a national record check. FBI record checks take approximately 2 weeks to complete.
Public Schools/Supervisory Unions
If the FBI record check uncovers a conviction the information will be forwarded to the requesting agency. Should the record check reveal a conviction of a sexual nature involving a child the agency will be notified immediately.
If the FBI record check uncovers a conviction a letter advising there is a conviction report on the applicant, the nature of the conviction will be forwarded to the Commissioner of Education. Should the record check reveal a conviction of a sexual nature involving a child the Commissioner of Education will be notified immediately.
Notification to the headmaster by the Commissioner regarding the specifics of an applicant’s conviction record when the convictions are of a sexual nature involving children is a violation of federal law and was disallowed by the FBI.
After a notice that an FBI record exists is received by an applicant, an applicant may:
- Sign a form authorizing VCIC to release information regarding the convictions for which the applicant was convicted to the superintendent, or to the applicant;
- Challenge the accuracy of the record by appealing to VCIC in writing within 30 days;
- Decline or resign employment.
If the applicant wishes to authorize VCIC to release a copy of their record of convictions to the superintendent or to themselves, the applicant must complete the Request for Release of Criminal History Information To Requesting Agency (Forms), release form and forward the release form to the school agency. The requesting agency will forward the release form to VCIC who will disseminate the record as specified in the release.
When the FBI issues a response, applicant fingerprint cards are destroyed by the FBI and are not returned to VCIC.
It is important to note that a “No Record” response from VCIC or the FBI does not mean that an applicant has no record. It means that the applicant may not have been fingerprinted for crime for which he was convicted.
Requesting Agency Responsibilities
Upon return of the criminal history check, the Department, superintendent, or headmaster will complete the Criminal History Log with the date that the request was returned and the result of the record check “Record” or “No Record.”
The release form together with the response from VCIC and the criminal record, if applicable, will be filed with the Criminal History Log. Criminal record information (including a “No Record” response) is confidential information. The Department, superintendent, or headmaster may not disclose the contents of criminal history information to any person other than the applicant and properly designated employees of the Department, district, or headmaster’s staff who have a documented need to know the contents of the record.
Criminal history information is NOT a matter of public record, and cannot be filed in a way that is accessible to the public. In particular, criminal history information may not be filed with an applicant’s personnel file if that file is accessible to the public.
The Department, superintendent, or headmaster will maintain the Criminal History Log, processed release forms, responses and criminal record information for a period of three calendar years. After the retention period and pursuant to VSA Title 16, Section 256, IF criminal record information and logs are to be destroyed, they must be shredded or burned.
The Department, superintendent, or headmaster will make available its Criminal History Log, processed release forms, and criminal record information to VCIC for audit purposes. The Department, superintendent, or headmaster can expect to be audited a minimum of once every two years. VCIC audit procedures include: 1) site visits; 2) auditing of criminal history logs which are mailed to VCIC by the district; and/or 3) random telephone auditing of applicants on who criminal histories have been requested by the requesting agency.
Secondary Dissemination of Records
When an agency authorized to receive criminal record information provides another authorized agency with criminal record information which they have received from VCIC or from the FBI, this transfer is called secondary dissemination. Federal and State law requires that secondary disseminations are logged. This requirement is designed to assist VCIC to correct any erroneous information that may be reported concerning an applicant. If an applicant discovers an error on their record it is VCIC’s responsibility to correct the error and to make sure that any agency that has received incorrect information receives a corrected copy. Without a Secondary Dissemination Log, VCIC would not be able to track the dissemination of incorrect data.
It is the responsibility of the disseminating agency to be absolutely certain that criminal record information obtained under the National Child Protection Act is only disseminated to an authorized educational institution for purposes of volunteerism. School districts and Headmasters are not required under statute to provide secondary dissemination of NCPA records.
If you request criminal record information from another Vermont educational agency or you send criminal information to another Vermont educational agency, please follow these instructions:
Special Note: Secondary dissemination to an agency out of state - Secondary dissemination of the specifics of an FBI record to a headmaster, or secondary dissemination to any agency other than an authorized educational institution is strictly prohibited.
- Procedures for authorized school agencies requesting criminal histories from another authorized school agency:
- Have the applicant complete a release form.
- Forward the release form directly to the authorized school agency (not VCIC).
- Complete your Criminal History Log as usual, except add an ‘*’ in the date of request column to indicate that the request is secondary dissemination.
- Procedures for authorized school agencies sending criminal histories to another authorized school agency:
- Verify that the applicant who completed the release form is the same person for whom you have a criminal report on file.
- Complete the Criminal History Secondary Dissemination Log instead of the log you use when requesting records from VCIC.
- Return the release form to the requesting school agency with a copy of the criminal report.
A person who, without authorization, discloses criminal record check information received under this law shall be fined not more than $5,000.00 per disclosure. If an applicant suffers damages as a result of the disclosure, the applicant can recover those damages and reasonable attorney fees in a civil suit.
- Please allow 2 – 3 weeks from the date your applicant was fingerprinted for processing.
- If you have not received a report back within 4 weeks, please call Tina Healy at VCIC, (802) 241-5157.
- Requests submitted during August, September, and November are likely to be delayed by at least 10 working days beyond routine processing times due to the heavy volume during this period.
The Department of Public Safety will bill each agency based on the record checks received for the previous month. The fee for a Title 16 (Education Employment) request is $13.25 for employees and $11.25 for volunteers. Checks should be made payable to the Department of Public Safety.
General Information and Questions
Please direct questions to the Records Check Section at (802) 241-5320.