Volunteer Clearances: How do I obtain my clearances?
The process for obtaining background clearances may be initiated online. The following instructions, together with the embedded links, will assist you in beginning the process of obtaining your clearances. Three documents are required. Under the circumstances described below, the Affirmation form may replace the need for FBI fingerprints. More information about each document is available at the bottom of the page.
- Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Certification - https://www.compass.state.pa.us/cwis/public/home
- Pennsylvania Criminal History Background Check - https://epatch.state.pa.us
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Criminal Background Check OR
Lower Merion School District Volunteer Affirmation
Submitting Clearances to LMSD
Once obtained, original clearance documents must be submitted to the Human Resources Department in the District's Administration Building for inspection and copying in one of two ways. When submitting, please include your student's name, grade and school.
- Submit the required original documents to the following address: Lower Merion School District/HR/Volunteer, 301 E. Montgomery Ave., Ardmore, PA 19003.
- Original documents may also be personally presented for copying in the District's Department of Human Resources (301 E. Montgomery Ave., Ardmore, PA 19003) for immediate return during the following times:
Tuesdays: 8:30 a.m. - noon
Thursdays: 12:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
If you have any questions or need assistance, please contact the Office of School and Community Relations at 610-645-1977.
Clearance Information1. Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Certification
The Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance can be completed online for the quickest results. Once you enter the link you will be directed to the Pennsylvania Child Welfare Portal where you must create an account or log in if you already have an account. (Note: you will need an email address to create an account.) Click here to submit the Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance application (https://www.compass.state.pa.us/cwis/public/home). There is no fee for this clearance.2. Pennsylvania Criminal History Background Check
The Pennsylvania Criminal Record Check can be done either online or by mail. The online results are available right away. If you choose to mail the form, it could take up to 8 weeks for the results to be returned to you. To complete the process online, go to https://epatch.state.pa.us and click on "New Record Check (Volunteers Only)" and follow the instructions. In the Volunteer Organization Name box, put Lower Merion School District. In the Volunteer Organization Telephone Number, put 610-645-1800. At the end of the process, you will need to print two copies of the certification form. You must click on "certification form" in order to pull up the correct form to print. Please keep a copy of your Criminal Record Check for your personal records. There is no fee for this clearance.3. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Criminal Background Check OR
Lower Merion School District Volunteer Affirmation
Affirmation: The FBI Criminal Background Check is not required if a Tier I Volunteer has been a resident of Pennsylvania for the entirety of the previous ten-year period and swears or affirms by properly executing a Lower Merion School District Volunteer Affirmation that he or she is not disqualified from service and has not been convicted of a prohibited offense listed in existing law or a similar offense in another jurisdiction. Please click here for the affirmation form.
FBI Check: The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services utilizes Cogent Systems to process fingerprint-based FBI criminal background checks. The fingerprint based background check is a two-step process including online registration and fingerprinting taken digitally at a registered site. For more information and to begin the registration process, go to https://www.pa.cogentid.com/index_pdeNew.htm. Please be sure to choose the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) when registering. There is a $27 fee for this clearance which includes an automatic mailed unofficial copy of the results to the applicant.
Once you have registered, proceed to an approved fingerprinting site to be digitally fingerprinted. A list of approved locations is available on the Cogent website. Please note that the UPS Store in Wynnewood is a drop-in site for fingerprints (no appointment required). Your Registration Number starting with "PAE..." must be provided to the District so your results can be retrieved.
Volunteers play a vital role in supporting the students, staff and programs of Lower Merion School District. We greatly value their assistance in fulfilling the District's mission and strategic plan.
Recent changes to Pennsylvania's Child Protective Services Law have had a significant impact on the requirements for individuals serving as school volunteers. Beginning July 1, 2016, all Tier 1 school volunteers (as defined below) - including parents - must submit background clearances prior to serving at school. This requirement applies whether you are interested in volunteering for a single event or over a period of time. Volunteers are defined as individuals eighteen (18) years or older serving in an unpaid position with a program, activity, or service project for the District. A volunteer who (1) is responsible for the welfare of a child OR (2) will have direct volunteer contact with children (meaning the care, supervision, guidance, or control of children AND routine interaction with children) is designated as a "Tier 1" volunteer. If there is any chance you might wish to volunteer in your child's school next year, please click here for instructions on how to submit your background clearances.
Examples of the types of roles requiring a volunteer to submit clearances include classroom volunteer assistants, recess and library volunteers, chaperones for field trips and dances, and volunteer coaches/club advisors. The District will provide notification as to whether an event will require a volunteer to submit clearances. Note that once your updated clearances are on file, you will not need to re-submit clearances for each volunteer opportunity. Volunteer clearances are valid for sixty (60) months from the date of issue. Please note that fees associated with state clearances (State Policy and Department of Human Services) for volunteers have been waived, effective July 2015; however, if you are required to also submit an FBI clearance, you would be responsible for the costs associated with obtaining that clearance.
LMSD also distinguishes between "volunteers" and "visitors" in that visitors are viewed as individuals who are attending and/or observing an event or activity without providing a service to the students, staff, or school/district operations and who would not be responsible for the care, supervision, guidance, or control of children. Some examples of these events would include but are not limited to: Back-to -School nights, parent/teacher conferences, school assemblies, American Education Week, Reading Olympics, school concerts, Halloween parades, etc. In this capacity, school visitors do not need the clearances as described above.
As this is the first year of the application of this law, please bear with us as we work to efficiently and effectively notify our community of these new obligations. If you have any questions, please call the District's Office of Community Relations at 610-645-1977.