Can a criminal conviction prevent you from becoming a teacher?

Thinking about becoming a teacher in Pennsylvania? If so, it would serve you well to live your life within the eyes of the law. Why? The state requires that you have what it considers to be “good moral character” before it allows you to teach within state lines. Doing anything that could potentially call your character into question can affect your ability to teach.

Currently, the Pennsylvania Department of Education only gives teaching certificates to those it views as having good moral character. The department makes good moral character determinations after reading the responses you submit when filling out your answers in the state’s Teacher Information Management System. If any of your answers raise a red flag with the department, you may have to participate in a good moral character review.

The good moral character review

If you find yourself the subject of a Pennsylvania Department of Education good moral character review, you may have to collect and submit documentation relating to the incident the department believes puts your character in question. Once you submit all the necessary documentation, you should expect the department to consider three main areas. First, the department is going to examine the nature of your conduct. Second, the department is going to assess your attitude toward that conduct, and third, the department is going to consider whether you have made any efforts to rehabilitate yourself following the conduct it considers questionable.

What happens in the aftermath

Following your review, you should receive word in writing regarding whether you are going to be able to move forward with becoming a teacher. If you receive a denial in response to your application, you have the option to request either a hearing or a reconsideration.

Remember, not every crime is going to automatically prevent you from following your professional dreams. Other factors, such as how work to correct your behavior, are going to come into play when the state decides whether to ultimately allow you to teach.