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Basic FAQS on Security Clearances & Philadelphia School District Policy

posted Sep 6, 2013, 8:42 AM by Dawn Levi   [ updated Oct 12, 2015, 8:09 AM by David Ortiz ]


[ This document can be found at: ]

Masterman School needs parents and guardians to obtain their security clearances ASAP so they can volunteer during the school day to help the school operate smoothly despite the staffing shortage created by the School District of Philadelphia’s ongoing budget crisis.

Masterman Home & School Association (HSA) urges students’ parents and guardians to obtain their security clearances ASAP in order to be able to volunteer during the school year. The district requires these clearances in order to keep students -- our children -- safe.

Below is the current information about these requirements and application processes. It includes several changes new for 2015-2016.

Who must obtain clearances?

The state requires any adult holding an unpaid volunteer position who is responsible for a child’s welfare, or who has direct volunteer contact with children, to obtain security clearances.

Examples of volunteers who need security clearances include:

- Parents/guardians assisting staff and students at the school during the school day – in the front office, in the cafeteria, in the auditorium, for example.

- Parent/guardian chaperones  (THIS IS NEW FROM PREVIOUS YEARS.)

Examples of activities in the school that do NOT require visitors to obtain clearances include:

- Helping with a bake sale

- Career day speakers

- Assembly presenters

What types of security clearances must I obtain?

If you have lived in Pennsylvania for the past ten years, you must obtain:

  1. ·      Report of criminal history from the Pennsylvania State Police; and

  2. ·      Child Abuse History clearance from the Department of Human Services (Child Abuse).

Due to a recent change in state law, there is no charge for volunteers applying for the Criminal History and Child Abuse clearances. It can take up to two weeks to get the results from your clearance application. All new volunteers must bring a copy of these two clearance reports to the Masterman Front Office before they begin volunteering.

If you have lived outside of Pennsylvania in the last 10 years, you are ALSO required to obtain a fingerprint based federal criminal history (FBI) clearance through the Pennsylvania State Police. (THIS IS NEW FROM PREVIOUS YEARS.) This FBI clearance costs approximately $27, a fee that is NOT waived for volunteers.

NOTE: If you have NOT been a resident of Pennsylvania for the past 10 years, but already obtained your FBI clearance at any time since establishing residency, you are not required to obtain any additional FBI clearances. However, you must provide a copy of this FBI clearance to the Masterman Front Office before you begin volunteering.

How do I obtain security clearances?

All necessary instructions and links to apply for these three certifications (Criminal History, Child Abuse, and FBI) can be found at .

NEW FROM PREVIOUS YEARS: The Child Abuse clearance application is now available online in addition to a paper format. The online application for the Child Abuse clearance is somewhat complicated, but Masterman HSA has compiled a comprehensive set of instructions that walks you through the process. These instructions for the Child Abuse clearance’s online application can be found here:  Volunteers are no longer required to submit a copy of their criminal history or FBI clearances with their Child Abuse clearance application. The Criminal History clearance application continues to be available online at this web page:   Click on the “New Record Check (Volunteers Only)” button to begin the process. SAVE COPIES OF EACH COMPLETED APPLICATION.

Masterman HSA Instructions for applying for FBI Clearances can be found here:

Can I volunteer while I wait for my security clearance reports?

Yes, but you must provide the Masterman front office with copies of each completed security clearance application before you volunteer. Bring your final reports to the Masterman Front Office once you receive them.

How long are my security clearances valid?

60 months. If you receive a security clearance in September 2015, it will expire in September 2020. If you obtained any of these clearances after September 2010, you may use the existing clearances to volunteer at school until 60 months after the date your clearance was issued.

How often do I need to renew my clearances?

All volunteers will be required to obtain clearances every 60 months. If you elect to renew all clearances at the same time, you must renew them when the oldest certification expires. When you renew your clearances, bring copies of the renewed clearances to the Masterman front office before you next volunteer.