Some Faculty Background Checks Halted

By Erdley, Debra | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 18, 2015 | Go to article overview

Some Faculty Background Checks Halted


Erdley, Debra, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Faculty members at Pennsylvania's 14 state-owned universities have won the opening round in their battle to exempt most professors from background checks required by the state's child protective laws.

Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pellegrini on Thursday issued a preliminary injunction ordering the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education to stop requiring criminal background checks of all faculty members and limit checks to faculty who teach any course that includes high school students enrolled in college and those who are involved in any program that requires direct contact with minors.

The Association of State College and University Faculties, the union that represents 5,000 faculty members at the 14 universities, had sought the court's intervention. The union argued that most of its members did not fit the criteria for background checks -- that employees or volunteers have direct contact with minors.

Pellegrini ordered state system officials and faculty union representatives to meet and identify those who fit those criteria within the next 30 days.

Meanwhile, he said state system officials must halt background checks, pending a contrary arbitration decision and/or a Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board decision.

The state system schools in Western Pennsylvania include California, Clarion, Edinboro, Indiana and Slippery Rock universities.

State system spokesman Kenn Marshall said it budgeted $4 million for background checks on all employees and volunteers, and had completed checks on 1,800 faculty members. …

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