Penn has established a new policy centralizing background checks for students, faculty, staff, and volunteers who have direct contact with minors.
The Protecting Minors On Campus Policy, effective since Feb. 19, mandates that individuals working with children must undergo a three-part background check. Penn has also established a new full-time coordinator position, which will oversee the program regarding minors on campus in the Division of Human Resources, Recruitment Services. The new policy was established to comply with Pennsylvania law, which requires three background checks for Philadelphia residents who work with minors.
"All University faculty, staff, postdoctoral trainees, students and volunteers having direct contact with children in connection with University activities are required to undergo a three-part background check consistent with Pennsylvania law," the policy states. "The check will be in addition to any standard background check applicable to an employee at the time of hire."
Despite the new coordinator role, each school and center within Penn is still responsible for determining which individuals fall under the scope of the policy.
The policy is a compilation of policies that were previously housed under individual schools, Senior HR Communications Specialist Wendy Harris wrote in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian.
"Background checks for programs involving minors had been conducted on a decentralized basis," Harris wrote. "However, based on anticipated University outreach and increasing demand, the decision was made to centralize the process."
Harris added that the background checks will continue to be funded by individual schools and centers.
Under the policy, people may not work with minors if they were previously convicted of crimes including homicide, child endangerment, and sexual assault. Individuals are also excluded from working with children if they were convicted of a felony offense under the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act within the previous five years.
The policy also outlines that individuals in leadership and supervisory positions on Penn's campus are responsible for reporting suspected cases of child abuse. The cases must be reported in three ways: an oral or written report to the Division of Public Safety, an oral report to the Department of Human Services, and a written report to the department or county agency assigned the case.
Staff Reporter Daniel Wang contributed reporting.
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