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Though not every legal run-in will make it impossible for you to become a teacher, there are some convictions that make you unemployable in the field of education. If you have both a criminal record and a desire to teach, carefully consider your options before moving forward with your plans to become an educator.
Whether or not your criminal record will prevent you from getting a teaching job will depend substantially on what type of convictions your record contains. While they vary from state to state, each state board of education has a set list of unemployable offenses. This list generally contains major offenses. In Ohio, for example, the list includes things like murder, kidnapping, sexual battery, robbery and domestic violence. As a first step in trying to get a teaching job with a criminal record, determine whether your conviction is on the list of unemployable offenses established by your state board of education.
If your criminal record doesn’t contain an unemployable offense, you will still be able to obtain a teaching job. The presence of any criminal record, no matter how minor, may complicate the process, however. When you fill out applications for teaching positions, remember to be honest, states Les Rosen from the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. Lying about the presence of a criminal record may help you get the job initially, but when your employer discovers that you have lied you will likely be promptly dismissed. Instead of lying, prepare to explain the situation if asked.
Depending upon the type of conviction you have, you may be able to get the slate wiped clean through a process called expungement. If you can have your record expunged, all history of prior convictions will be erased, according to the Ohio Re-Entry Coalition. There are some requirements you must meet to be eligible for expungement. First, your crime must not be on the list of convictions that can’t be expunged. This list is lengthy and includes a number of major crimes, many of which are sexual in nature including rape and gross sexual imposition. Along with not having been convicted of an unexpungable crime, you must not have served a mandatory prison term. You also must have only been convicted of a particular crime once. A set amount of time must have passed -- at least one year since your misdemeanor conviction or at least three years since your felony conviction. Finally, you must not have any proceedings against you currently and you must not previously have expunged your record.
If your criminal record contains a conviction that is both on the unemployable offenses list and isn’t subject to being expunged, you may have to seek employment in another field. Before you drop education from your list of possible occupations all together, however, confer with a legal professional. Laws regarding expungement as well as the unemployable offense list are both ever-changing. While a lawyer may not be able to give you the answer you desire, meeting with one is a wise final step as this individual will be the most qualified to inform you of any other avenues that you may not have explored.
Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, Trails.com and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.
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