Background Clearance Info
*** Update Regarding the FBI/Cogent clearance ***
The Dept. of Education is now accepting the FBI/Cogent clearance if it was completed through the Dept. of Education OR Dept. of Public Welfare.
If your clearance has a PAE number or a DPW number and was completed within 5 years, it should be accepted as a valid FBI/Cogent clearance.
Because PIAA-registered officials are independent contractors to schools whose Contests they officiate, the officials are required to comply with the requirements for background certifications as set forth in the Public School Code and the recent revisions to the Child Protective Services Law (adopted July 1, 2015), as follows:
There are three clearances that are required by PA State Law. Each can be accessed at the links below:
- FBI clearance (ACT 114) - https://pa-aps.3m.com/perlpub/registration_edu_pci.pl
(This is the Cogent site required to be used by Department of Education - this clearance must be done online)
Click here for the Cogent Fingerprint site locations
In completing the FBI clearance, there is an area that requests “reasons” – the answer is school districts.
Approximately 4 weeks after getting fingerprinted, you will receive your Cogent results in the mail. It will say "Unofficial Copy", but these are the documents (both front and back sides) that will need to be uploaded to the PIAA website. Click here for the example of the form that needs to be uploaded to our website if the clearance was completed under the Dept. of Public Welfare. Click here for the example of the form that needs to be uploaded to our website if the clearance was completed under the Dept. of Education.
- PA State Police clearance (ACT 34) - https://epatch.state.pa.us
In completing the PA State Police clearance, the "reason" is employment. Click here for the example of the form that needs to be uploaded to our website.
- Department of Human Services clearance (PA Child Abuse) (ACT 151) - https://www.compass.state.pa.us/cwis/public/home
**Once at this site, create an individual account**
In completing the Child Abuse History clearance, under the application purpose, check the box titled, "School Employee Governed by Public School Code". Click here for the example of the form that needs to be uploaded to our website.
**The PA State Police clearance and the Department of Human Services clearance can be printed and mailed to those depts.
Click here for the printer version of the PA State Police clearance.
Click here for the printer version of the Department of Human Services clearance.
- PIAA registered officials are not considered “volunteers.” Do not click on any of the boxes that reference volunteers. Officials are independent contractors employed by the individual schools and school districts. In addition, the Affidavit-Exemption from FBI Clearance form is not acceptable for PIAA registered officials. All officials must be fingerprinted every five years.
- Expenses for obtaining clearances shall be borne by the registered sports official. PIAA is not permitted to accept certifications which were obtained for volunteering purposes under Section 6344.2 (relating to volunteers having contact with children).
- Keep the originals of your clearances and hold on to copies in the event a particular school wants to view your clearances.
- Upon receiving copies of your clearances, you will need to scan them and save them as PDFs on your computer. Please refer to "Instructions for Officials to enter their clearances into the Officials database".
CURRENTLY REGISTERED OFFICIALS
All current PIAA-registered officials who have not yet submitted to PIAA the certifications identified below are required to obtain and submit them to PIAA on or before January 1, 2016. The failure to submit such certifications shall result in suspension of registration until the certifications are submitted.
What this means?
- If not previously submitted, clearances for PIAA registered officials are required by January 1, 2016. They are not required by law until this date.
- All registered officials are required to re-submit all three clearances every five years.
- Clearances for those officials that have registered in the last five years will remain in effect until their initial five year period expires.
- Clearances obtained by newly registered officials in the year prior to their test date may be used to satisfy the clearance requirement.
- There is no “grandfather clause” in this legislation. ALL officials are required to obtain all three clearances and have them on file with PIAA by January 1, 2016.
- Clearances obtained through employment may be used to satisfy PIAA clearance requirements, provided they are the ACT 34, ACT 114 and ACT 151 and are within the five year period. However, clearances obtained as a volunteer may not be used to satisfy PIAA clearance requirements.
Upon successful completion of the respective sport examination, all applicants must comply with the background clearance mandates listed on the previous page. The change in this law has had no effect on the application process currently in place.
***** Please direct any questions to PIAA at (717) 697-0374. *****
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
When officiating Contests for PIAA member schools, PIAA-registered officials are independent contractors to those schools. Under the Public School Code, independent contractors are required to comply with the requirements for background certifications as set forth in the Public School Code and the recent revisions to the Child Protective Services Law (adopted July 1, 2015) as developed by the General Assembly. The following are frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) regarding these background clearances.
Q: Who Needs to Get Clearances?
A: All PIAA registered sports officials. Pennsylvania schools are barred by law from contracting with you unless you are able to provide them with clearances. While some officials were previously "grandfathered" and not required to obtain clearances, that status no longer exists. All officials must now have the clearances.
Q: When do I need to have my clearances?
A: If you are a new official, you must submit the clearances to PIAA when you register. The deadline for those previously registered officials who have not previously obtained clearances is December 31, 2015; therefore, the effective date is January 1, 2016. Note, however, that some schools may have stricter local policies and may require them from you even prior to January 1, 2016.
Q: Do officials have to complete these every year?
A: No. Once obtained, the clearances are good for 60 months (5 years) and then they have to be updated.
Q: What is the cost of each clearance?
A: The FBI clearance is $27; the PA State Police clearance - $8; Dept. of Human Services (was Dept. of Public Welfare) - $8.
Q: Who pays for the clearances?
A: Officials must pay for their own clearances.
Q: If I didn't obtain background clearance because I was originally covered under the “grandfather” clause, do I now have to provide clearances?
A: Yes. All registered sports officials must provide the 3 requested clearances to PIAA and the schools they are officiating.
Q: If I have been a PA resident for 10 years or more, do I have to complete the 3 clearances?
A: Yes. The "10 year" exemption for the FBI check applies only to volunteers with non-profits. Because they are paid independent contractors, PIAA officials are not considered volunteers. All registered sports officials must provide the 3 requested clearances to PIAA and the schools they are officiating.
Q: I have obtained my clearances as a volunteer. Can I use them for my PIAA clearances as well.?
A: No. The law prohibits clearances obtained as volunteers to be used by employees and independent contractors.
Q: I have these 3 clearances completed for my job, they are 2 years old. Will I be able to submit these since they are not over 5 years old?
A: Yes. The clearances are transferrable and they are under the 5 year (60 months) deadline.
Q: What is PIAA's role in the clearance process?
A: Several years ago, when we determined that independent contractors were going to be covered by the background clearances requirements, we worked with the Department of Education to streamline the process for our schools and officials. This was important since the law required new clearances each time an independent contractor worked for a different school and our officials often officiate for many schools in any given season. We were able to work out a process whereby PIAA would serve as a clearinghouse for its member schools and clearances submitted to PIAA could be reviewed on line by member schools. This service to our officials and member schools required a considerable investment by PIAA but has worked out well.