Act 15

Act 15


Recent updates to the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law require school district employees to obtain criminal background checks (state and federal) and child abuse clearances on a regular basis. The three required clearances are as follows:

PA Criminal Background Check

PA Child Abuse History Clearance

FBI Fingerprinting (federal background check) 

Update: Timeline for Background Check Renewal Extended

On July 1, 2015, the Pennsylvania legislature passed Act 15, which amends the Child Protective Services Law and clarifies some changes made through Act 153. The most significant change to the Child Protective Services Law is that employees of school districts must renew their clearances every 60 months (five years), not every 36 months (three years). 

The school district has updated the renewal process to comply with the change in law by placing employees into annual renewal cycles based on hire year.  For the upcoming cycle, employees will be required to renew by December 31 of the year prior to clearance expiration to ensure compliance for the full 60 month period. A notice will be sent via email to employees with specific information on their renewal period. 

Please refer to the table below for your clearance deadline. 


Your Hire Year


Your Clearance Renewal Deadline

Through 2010

  • Immediate action required. Deadline extended to December 31, 2015.


  • Immediate action required. Deadline is now December 31, 2015.


  • No immediate action required. Deadline extended to December 31, 2016.


  • No immediate action required. Deadline is now December 31, 2017.


  • No immediate action required. Deadline is now December 31, 2018.


  • No immediate action required. Deadline is now December 31, 2019.


I’ve obtained all three clearances, how do I submit my documents to the school district? 

You can upload the documents online - OR – hand-deliver the paper version.

Online Submission: A dedicated online system is now available to collect and track clearances. To submit your clearances online:

  • Navigate to your School District login page (www.philasd.org/login/) and sign in.
  • On your login page, click the green “Clearances” icon to access the portal where you will upload your clearances. 

·      How do I scan hard copies of clearances I received from the agencies?

For instructions on how to scan using your school or office copier, please review the e-mail to scan document.

Paper Submission (hand-delivery only):  Clearances may be submitted in person to the Office of Talent, located at 440 North Broad Street, Philadelphia PA, Suite 222 during business hours.  All three clearances must be submitted together. Be sure to retain a copy of each document submitted for your records.

How do I get my background checks? 

The required three clearances include child abuse clearance,Pennsylvania Criminal History anFBI FingerprintingPlease refer to table below for information on how to apply for clearances.

 How to AccessFeeSummaryFor Assistance
Child Abuse Clearancehttps://www.compass.state.pa.us/cwis/public/home$8
  • Creating an account and submitting your clearance application online will give you immediate access to your results or the status of your results if your results cannot be processed immediately.
  • Results will be posted to your account and will be available to view and save as a PDF document.
  • Be sure to download and save your clearance results.
Pennsylvania Criminal Historyhttps://epatch.state.pa.us/Home.jsp$8
  • Results of the PA Criminal History are generally instantaneous. Results will be provided as a PDF document.
  • Remember to save your criminal results.
FBI Fingerprintingwww.pa.cogentid.com$27

Applying for FBI fingerprinting clearance is a multi-step process:

  • Register with Cogent systems onlinewww.pa.cogentid.com or by phone at 1-888-439-2486. When registering, select the Department of Education option—PDE option. Be sure to grant your permission for the school district to obtain your results. 
    • You must register prior to going to the fingerprint site.
  • Record your Registration Identification Number or “PAE” Number:
    • Cogent will provide this number to you upon registration. Your identification number will begin with the letters “PAE.” Please keep track of PAE number as you will need to provide this number when you go to the fingerprinting site and to the school district.
  • Find a convenient fingerprinting site onwww.pa.cogentid.com
    • Please note that you will be required to have a valid ID present at the fingerprinting site.
    • At this time, The School District of Philadelphia's Office of Talent is unable to provide fingerprinting services to our employees.  We strongly encourage you to find the site that is convenient to your school location and/or home.  If and when the office is able to accommodate staff, this page will be updated with hours.       


I am an employee with a hire date between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2014 with active clearances. Do I still have to renew by December 31, 2015, even if my clearances are still current?

No, the renewal process has been updated to reflect the change in law requiring updated clearances every 60 months instead of every 36 months.  If, as the result of our original notice, you have already submitted updated clearances by the date of this communication, the school district will reimburse your paid clearance fees up to $43.00. Please note, we will need to have all three clearances on file with the Office of Talent for you to be eligible for reimbursement. Details on how to obtain your reimbursement will be posted to this page shortly. For now, be sure to keep a copy of all receipts.   

Where can I find my clearance reference numbers?

The Child Abuse Clearance certificate number is found in the upper right hand corner of your certificate.  See sample 
Child Abuse Certificate.

The PA Criminal Background Check number is found on your criminal check certificate. The number generally begins with an “R.” See sample 
PA Criminal Background Check Certificate.

The FBI Fingerprint reference number is the PAE number found your fingerprint results. See sample 
Fingerprint Result.  Please note that your PAE number can also be found on your fingerprint receipt or proof of submission form. 

Who should I contact if I have more questions related to clearances? 

Please contact clearances@philasd.org with any questions you may have regarding clearances.