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Getting a Teaching Job With a Felony

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Reader Question:
I am a person who would like to become a teacher. I currently live in the midwest, but I would move anywhere the occupation took me, especially if I could land a job with Dodds and teach overseas. I have my undergraduate degree and have been in the business world for 11 years. I am registered to start my MA in teaching shortly, but need to know if a felony conviction from 14 years ago for retail theft will hinder my certification.--C

Dear C.,
Certification requirements vary by state as do regulations for various offenses. Often, teacher certification is possible with a felony conviction of theft but the offender will be required to provide additional documentation beyond the certification process. For instance, in Illinois, a felony conviction requires the individual to provide to the State Superintendent of Education the following: 1) a certified court record of the conviction; 2) evidence that at least one year has elapsed since the end of the sentence for the criminal offense where sentence includes any period of probation that was imposed either alone or in combination with a period of incarceration; 3) an explanation of the event in his or her own words; 4) original, signed statements from employers, civic leaders, college instructors, and others clearly indicating that they have knowledge of the conviction but can also attest to the individual's good character and rehabilitation. The State Superintendent will then review these documents and determine evidence of good character and rehabilitation in combination with the gravity of the offense, the individual's age and background at the time of the offense, and any criminal penalty that was imposed.

In order to determine the requirements for the state in which you wish to be certified, you will need to consult with that state certification office, i.e., http://dese.mo.gov/divteachqual/teachcert/edcert.html for the state of Missouri.

Additionally, if you are interested in teaching abroad through the Department of Defense, you can contact them through their Branch office in Peachtree City, GA, at 678-364-8000, fax 770-632-8720, or at [email protected] to request information about their requirements. Their web address is www.dodea.edu. Good luck.

Davida Bluhm
Director, Educational Career Services
University of [email protected]

1 Comment

It was my understanding that any felony, no matter what, is a disqualifier. Schools cannot terminate you for a DUI, but it can prevent them from hiring you. Check with your state board of education.

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