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Protecting Minors on Campus Policy

The University of Pennsylvania, as part of its educational mission, may engage in programs and events that involve minors. The University recognizes both its institutional and legal obligations to ensure the safety and well-being of minors on campus and has therefore implemented the Protecting Minors on Campus Policy, effective February 19, 2019.

This policy is established in compliance with Pennsylvania law, pertaining to faculty, staff, students, and volunteers having direct contact with children.  

1. SCOPE

This policy describes the background check requirements applicable to University faculty, staff, students, and volunteers who have direct contact with children.  Employees and volunteers of the University of Pennsylvania Health System (UPHS) are covered by UPHS policy.

All University faculty, staff, postdoctoral trainees, students, and volunteers having direct contact with children (hereinafter, “Covered Individuals”) in connection with University activities are required to undergo a three-part background check consistent with Pennsylvania law.  The check shall be in addition to any standard background check applicable to an employee at the time of hire. 

2. DEFINITIONS

Consistent with Pennsylvania law, “direct contact with children” is defined as “care, supervision, guidance, or control of children or routine interaction with children.”  “Children” comprises "individuals under the age of 18, except it does not include individuals under the age of 18 who have matriculated at Penn."

Under this policy, Covered Individuals, include the following persons, by way of example only:

  • Persons working or volunteering in connection with any program, activity, or service offered to children under the age of 18 who are not matriculated Penn students (e.g., programs offered to high school, middle school, and/or elementary school students), including summer programs, sports camps and clinics, lab and other training opportunities, and non-degree and non-credit educational programs; and 
  • Persons supervising or regularly working with any trainee, intern, or observer of any University activity who is under the age of 18 and is not a matriculated Penn student.

3. ELEMENTS OF BACKGROUND CHECKS

Covered Individuals must undergo a three-part background check consisting of the following:

  1. A report of criminal history record information from the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP);
  2. A child abuse history clearance certification from the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) as to whether the faculty, staff, student, or volunteer is named in the statewide database as the alleged perpetrator in a pending child abuse investigation or as the perpetrator of a founded report of child abuse; and
  3. A report of federal criminal history record information, generated by fingerprints transmitted to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The first and second searches shall be obtained through the University’s approved vendor.  With respect to faculty or staff members, the Division of Human Resources (including Human Resources staff in the schools/centers) must initiate the criminal history record search and the child abuse history clearance certification.  Penn students covered by this policy by virtue of educational programming shall be the subject of background checks initiated by the school or center conducting the educational program.  The fingerprint-based FBI report shall be obtained by the prospective faculty, staff, student, or volunteer through the submission of a fingerprint record to a vendor registered in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania which will then forward the record to the FBI. 

4. PORTABILITY OF CERTIFICATION

The University will obtain a PSP criminal history record and DHS clearance for all Covered Individuals, except volunteers.  The University will accept a previously issued, unexpired fingerprint-based FBI report for all Covered Individuals.

For volunteers only:

  • The University will accept previously issued documents (including the PSP criminal history record and DHS clearance), provided all three required documents were obtained within the last five years and the volunteer executes an affidavit of disclosure in a form required by law.
  • The fingerprint-based FBI report is not required provided the individual has resided in Pennsylvania continuously for the past 10 years and affirms there exists no conviction in another state that would prohibit selection as a volunteer.

5. TIMING OF CHECKS

Covered Individuals shall be subject to the three-part background check prior to the commencement of working with minors, and thereafter every five years.

Covered Individuals passing the first and second screening requirements (PSP criminal history record and DHS child abuse clearance) may begin employment or a volunteer position while awaiting the return of the fingerprint-based FBI report; however, such individuals may not work/volunteer alone with children until the full background check has been completed (unless a volunteer is exempted from the fingerprint-based FBI report under the exception identified above).

Temporary or occasional workers previously subject to clearance conducted by the University within the past 5 years may be exempted upon execution of an affidavit in accordance with law.  Such individuals must be the subject of a new three-part background check upon the expiration of the original.

Covered Individuals may be required to submit to additional checks at any time based on a reasonable belief that the person is disqualified from service on grounds of a conviction or report of child abuse.

6. DISQUALIFICATIONS

Refusal to cooperate with the background check process shall disqualify a Covered Individual from any position having direct contact with children.  A staff member who refuses to cooperate with the background check process may be ineligible for employment (for new hires) or subject to discipline (for current employees), up to and including termination from employment.

A person may not work or volunteer in any capacity having direct contact with children if:

  1. Such person’s background check reveals that he or she is the perpetrator of a founded report of child abuse committed within the past five years; 
  2. Such person’s criminal history record(s) reveals a conviction for any of the crimes or classes of crimes enumerated in 23 Pa. C.S. §6344(c), including similar crimes under federal law or the law of another state:  homicide, aggravated assault, stalking, kidnapping, unlawful restraint, rape or sexual assault (including statutory rape or sexual assault), involuntary deviant sexual intercourse, indecent assault, indecent exposure, incest, concealing death of child, endangering the welfare of a child, dealing in infant children, obscene and other sexual materials and performances, corruption of minors, sexual abuse of a child, or the attempt, solicitation, or conspiracy to commit any of the foregoing offenses; or
  3. Such person’s criminal history record information indicates the individual has been convicted of a felony offense under The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, committed within the past five years. 

Questions regarding the potential disqualification should be referred to the Division of Human Resources and the Office of the General Counsel. 

7. IMPLEMENTATION

The University has established in the Division of Human Resources, Recruitment Services, and a full-time coordinator with the authority to oversee and implement a University-wide compliance program regarding minors on campus.  Each school and center within the University must designate a representative responsible for determining which programs, activities, services, and persons are within the scope of this policy and ensuring compliance with background check requirements.  The school/center representative is responsible for coordinating the completion of required background checks and accepting the report of federal criminal history record from the faculty, staff, student, or volunteer.  The school/center representative is responsible for ensuring that the covered individual completes the appropriate clearances.  The school/center representative is responsible for reviewing and analyzing the background check results consistent with University procedure, taking into consideration section 6 of this policy.

The school/center representative is responsible for adjudicating the background checks, in compliance with Pennsylvania law and the Fair Credit Reporting Act.  The school/center representative is responsible for retaining all background check reports consistent with section 10 of this policy.  In addition, the representative is responsible for notifying the Division of Human Resources, Recruitment Services, that the three-part background check was completed and date of completion.

The Division of Human Resources, Recruitment Services, will maintain a central record of completed background checks which will be available to the designated school and center representatives to determine if a particular employee or volunteer has previously been subject to the three-part background check within the University, as well as the date of the background check. 

8. REQUIRED REPORT FROM COVERED INDIVIDUALS

Any Covered Individual arrested or convicted for any offense listed in section 6, or any offense substantially similar to the listed offenses, or named as a perpetrator in a founded report of child abuse, must provide written notice of the arrest, conviction, or report to his or her designated school or center representative and the Division of Human Resources, Staff and Labor Relations, within 72 hours after the arrest, conviction, or notification of the report.

9. RECORD RETENTION REQUIREMENTS

All background check records obtained and maintained under this policy shall be retained for no less than the duration of the employment or service of the individual employee or volunteer, plus seven years.

10. REPORTING SUSPECTED CHILD ABUSE

The obligation to report the suspected abuse of a minor extends to the following persons:  any member of the faculty or any University staff member in a leadership or supervisory position or who has significant responsibility for the welfare, guidance or advising of children, students, or staff, including the President, Executive Vice President, Provost, Vice Presidents, Vice Provosts, Deans, Vice Deans, Associate Deans, Assistant Deans and Academic Advisors, as well as appropriate staff in the following offices: College Houses and Academic Services (CHAS), Division of Public Safety (DPS), Division of the Vice Provost for University Life (VPUL), Division of Human Resources (including Human Resources staff in the schools/centers), Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Programs (OAA/EOP), Graduate Student Center (GSC), Division of Recreation and Intercollegiate Athletics (DRIA) and student life and academic services units in the University’s schools/centers.

Any person with a reporting obligation who suspects a minor (as defined above, as well as matriculated Penn students under 18) participating in any University program is the victim of abuse or neglect (irrespective of whether such abuse is on campus, at home, or elsewhere) must report such abuse or neglect as follows:

  1. A reporter making an oral and/or written report of suspected child abuse or neglect must immediately notify the Division of Public Safety, Special Services, at 215.898.4481 (215.898.6600 off-hours).
  2. An oral report of suspected child abuse or neglect must be made to the Department of Human Services at 800.932.0313 (“ChildLine”).  This number is available 24 hours per day, seven days per week.  Further information about child-abuse reporting is available online at http://www.dhs.pa.gov/provider/childwelfareservices/childlineandabuseregistry/index.htm 
    and
    http://www.phila.gov/dhs/reportNeglect.html
  3. A reporter making an oral report shall also make a written report to the department or county agency assigned the case, in the manner and format prescribed by the department.  Assistance in making this report shall be provided to the reporter by the Division of Public Safety, Special Services.

In addition, all members of the University community are encouraged to report a concern pertaining to abuse to the Division of Public Safety, Special Services.

Failure to make a required report may result in the imposition of criminal penalties, fines, and employee discipline, up to and including employment termination.

Questions

The Penn Employee Solution Center is now available to help with any questions.  The Solution Center is available Monday through Friday, during business hours, to answer questions. The number to call is 215-898-7372.  The e-mail is hcmsolutioncenter@upenn.edu