Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is committed to running multiple, periodic background checks on all adults working and volunteering in schools as part of our Protecting Chicago’s Children Plan of Action. Checking our staff members’, vendor employees’, and volunteers’ backgrounds will guarantee that every adult consistently working with our students is evaluated through a rigorous background check process.
Candidates that are eligible for the CPS background check process include district employee candidates, vendors, volunteers, university students, and Local School Council members, as well as charter school staff, although CPS does not ultimately make any hiring decisions regarding charter school employees. As part of the CPS background check process, these candidates must complete and submit a Background Investigation Authorization and Release Form to a Chicago Board of Education approved fingerprinting vendor location to be processed. The form is specific to the candidate's desired role at CPS, such as an employee, volunteer, or vendor. The completed form is consent from the candidate to allow the Board to conduct checks with the following entities and registries:
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Illinois State Police
- Nation-wide and state-wide sex offender registries
- Illinois State Police Murderer and Violent Offender Against Youth Registry.
- Department of Children and Family Services' (DCFS) State Automated Child Welfare Information System
- Chicago Board of Education records regarding eligibility for rehire
CPS conducts a thorough, individualized assessment of every candidate's background history, including any DCFS-indicated findings, by utilizing the Illinois School Code, the Illinois Human Rights Act 7, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Guidelines on Arrests and Convictions, Chicago Board of Education Rule 4-4, and/or the Chicago Board of Education's Volunteer Policy.
CPS is prohibited from hiring individuals, or allowing vendors to work in CPS schools, if they have been convicted of any enumerated offenses outlined in the School Code. For convictions for non-enumerated offenses, CPS makes its determination based upon the following factors:
- Nature and gravity of the offense or conduct
- Amount of time passed since the offense
- Completion of sentence, including conduct during sentence
- Nature of job held or sought
- Age of applicant at the time of offense or conduct
Finally, for arrests that do not result in convictions, pursuant to the Illinois Human Rights Act, CPS may obtain or utilize information other than the arrest record that indicates whether an individual engaged in the conduct alleged in the arrest record. If it is determined that an applicant did engage in the alleged conduct, CPS will weigh the above factors before making a determination.
If a candidate’s criminal background reports show a criminal history or DCFS-indicated findings, they may be asked for additional documentation which can include, but are not limited to:
- Arrest report(s)
- Original case incident report(s)
- Case supplementary report(s)
- Rap sheet(s)
- Certificate(s) of disposition
- Letter(s) of explanation
- “No records letter” from appropriate court
- Consent for DCFS to release full investigative report(s) for an indicated finding
If these documents are required, candidates will be notified individually along with details of how these documents can be obtained. Communication regarding background checks is primarily done via email. The Board does not accept background check results that were conducted previously by other organizations.
Who needs a background check?
This text is intended to provide general guidance about who needs a background check. In case of specific questions about who needs a background check, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the specific details and we will respond to your query within two business days.
All district employee candidates, university students, Local School Council members, and charter school staff candidates need background checks.
All volunteers also need a background check, the specifics of which depend on whether they are a Level 1 or Level 2 volunteer. Please refer to the Board’s volunteer policy for more information.
Staff of active CPS vendors’ need a background check unless:
- They will never physically be at a CPS site and never interact with students (this includes virtually and in-person);
- They are delivering items or food to the security desk and will always be supervised by security staff.
In case principals have other categories of vendors who they believe don’t need a background check, they should email us at email@example.com with the specific details. Principals may require all vendor staff in their buildings to undergo a background check.
Protecting Chicago’s Students