Statewide Laws Bring Changes to Student Employment

Carolina Elizalde, Contributing Writer


Changes to Pennsylvania State Laws are bringing changes to employment at the University. Starting in the fall 2015 semester, all faculty and staff members—including student employees—will be subject to undergo new background checks.

Under the state law, the Child Protective Services Law (CPSL) addresses both the mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse as well as required background checks for individuals who have contact with minors (anyone under the age of 18) as part of their employment.

Pennsylvania lawmakers have passed several amendments to the CSPL over the past two years. The final amendment, “Act 153”, has been in effect since Jan. 1, 2015 and is the catalyst for the new background checks at Bucknell.

“Broadly speaking, the amendments dictate that several different categories of employers, including institutions of higher learning across the Commonwealth, require employees who have direct contact with minors to undergo certain criminal and child abuse background checks every 36 months,” said Assistant Vice President of Communications Andy Hirsch.

Those checks include: A Pennsylvania State Police criminal history check; a FBI Federal criminal history check conducted upon the submission of fingerprints; and a Department of Human Services check disclosing whether an individual is named in the statewide database as an alleged perpetrator in a pending child abuse investigation or as the perpetrator of a founded or indicated report of such abuse.


“It is important to understand that Bucknell was already performing state and federal criminal background checks on new hires prior to the enactment of Act 153,” Hirsch said. “Bucknell was not, however, performing the specific checks required by Act 153.”


All current employees of the University are undergoing the checks on a schedule that began running on April 1, 2015 and will continue until December 31, 2017. Any employees hired after April 1, 2015 will undergo the background checks at the time of hire.


With some exceptions, student employees will generally be subject the same checks as other Bucknell faculty and staff members.


Implementation of the Act 153 background checks are estimated to cost a total of $45 per employee (again, including student employees), an expense that the University will reimburse.

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