Criminal Background Checks/Drug Screening/Fingerprinting
Successful completion of the SLP program includes satisfactory completion of the clinical education component of the curriculum. A majority of clinical sites now require students to complete a criminal background check prior to participating in clinical education placements. Some facilities may also require fingerprinting and/or drug screening. State licensure laws may also restrict or prohibit those with criminal convictions from obtaining a professional license to practice following graduation. Additionally, national certification agencies may deem persons with criminal convictions as ineligible to sit for national certification examinations. Thus, students with criminal convictions or backgrounds may not be able to obtain required clinical education experience(s) thereby failing to meet the academic standards of the health profession’s program.
It is therefore the policy of the Speech-Language Pathology Program that all admitted students planning to enroll in the SLP Program must consent, submit to, and satisfactorily complete a criminal background check (CBC) before registration for courses as a condition of matriculation. Matriculation will not be final until the completion of the criminal background check with results deemed acceptable to the Program Director or SLP DCE. Students are permitted to register for classes if they have a flagged CBC, but must sign a waiver acknowledging the risks (see the CBC policy). The SLP Program is aware that students cannot get financial aid until they are fully matriculated. Please note that a student may need to complete multiple criminal background checks throughout the program pending clinical affiliation site placements.
All expenses associated with the CBC, fingerprinting, and/or drug screening are the responsibility of the student. Students, who do not consent to the required background check, refuse to provide information necessary to conduct the background check, or provide false or misleading information in regards to the background check will be subject to disciplinary action up to, and including, refusal of matriculation or dismissal from the program.
Some health care and education facilities require students to obtain a background check in a certain period of time or use a specific company to obtain background checks, drug testing, or fingerprinting. Other facilities accept background checks from any company in any time frame. The DCE will advise students prior to their clinical placement if the site requires a specific company or timeframe for the CBC, drug screening, or fingerprinting. It will be the student’s responsibility to complete the background check, drug screening, or fingerprinting with the required company at their own expense within the timeframe specified by the site. If a site requires CBCs be completed, background check results may be sent to the site. The policy regarding who receives the results is determined by the site, not the SLP Program or Sacred Heart University.
The SHU SLP Program currently uses Castlebranch.com to obtain background checks prior to admission, which will include felonies, misdemeanors, and sex offender status at federal, state, and local levels from ten previous years of residence. Each student must contact Castlebranch.com via a secure internet site. The DCE will advise the student when the CastleBranch system will need to be utilized prior to a clinical affiliation, and if, when, and how other checks such as fingerprinting and drug testing must be obtained.
Because several clinical facilities require the university to provide students’ CBC results, the SLP DCE will need to have access to CBC inquiry results during a student’s active enrollment in the SLP Program at Sacred Heart University. All students’ CBC information will be sent to the designated SHU faculty/staff member and the DCE will be alerted of any adverse information; therefore, students using these services give permission for SHU to access their report upon signing the Applicant Statement of Understanding Regarding Background Checks and Professional Conduct.
In the case of adverse information in a CBC report, the DCE will proceed as follows:
- The SLP DCE will review the student’s University/Program/Major application to determine whether the student reported the offense on his/her application.
- The SLP DCE will contact the student to discuss the results and the student’s perspective on the circumstances. The conversation will be documented in writing and included in the student’s file. The student will be asked to sign an acknowledgement that s/he understands that a flagged background check may preclude the ability to be placed in clinical sites and therefore preclude completion of the SLP graduate program. Further, students will need to sign a statement attesting that they understand they will not be considered fully matriculated until they have a clear CBC, have completed all program entry requirements, and that they are aware that they will be unable to receive financial aid until they are fully matriculated.
- The student will also be asked to sign a waiver agreeing to give the SLP DCE permission to disclose to the facility that there was a problem with the background check. Failure to sign this will seriously jeopardize the student’s ability to complete the degree requirements and may result in a recommendation for dismissal from the program, as the student would be ineligible for a required clinical placement. The University will have no obligation to refund tuition or otherwise accommodate students in the event that a CBC or drug screening renders the student ineligible to complete required courses or clinical placement(s).
- Should the student choose to continue in the program, the SLP DCE will inform the site that there was a flag on a background check of a student; the SLP DCE will not reveal the student’s name to the site, rather, will identify the nature of the flag to the site and ask if such a student would be acceptable for placement at that site. The site will be asked to confirm acceptance in writing in a letter, fax, or email.
- If the student feels that an adverse CBC finding is in error, the student will be directed to speak with The State of Connecticut Department of Public Safety, Records Unit at (860)685-8480 to determine if further investigation is needed. Errors may occur in instances of:
- CBC was completed on a different person with the same name.
- CBC was completed on a similarly named person.
- CBC returned information that was supposed to be sealed or expunged.
If the information is in error, the State of Connecticut will notify the student in writing of the results of the investigation and if the error has been fixed or removed. The student would need to provide proof of that documentation to SLP DCE. If the adverse information is truly an error, no further action is taken.
If denied placement by the first clinical site as a result of a flagged CBC, drug screening, or fingerprinting, the SLP Clinical Placement Coordinator will attempt to find a second clinical placement and will follow the procedure outlined above. The student will be asked to sign a waiver agreeing to give the SLP Clinical Placement Coordinator permission to disclose to the facility that there was a problem with the background check. Failure to sign the waiver will seriously jeopardize the student’s ability to complete the degree requirements. Students who are twice denied a clinical placement based on the results of a background check will be considered ineligible for placement and unable to complete the program and, therefore, will be recommended for dismissal from the program. The University and the SLP Program have no obligation to refund tuition or otherwise accommodate students in the event that a CBC or drug screening renders the student ineligible to complete required courses or clinical placement(s).
Some clinical sites may require a clean report of a criminal background check within a specific time period prior to the start of the placement. Therefore, repeated or additional background checks prior to the start of a clinical education placement/rotation may be required at the student’s own expense. Sites may also notify the SLP Program by letter or electronically, or by noting the requirements on pre-placement confirmation forms as appropriate.
Criminal background information is strictly confidential, for use only by authorized SLP Program faculty and/or administrative staff, and shall be retained only until the student graduates or is dismissed from the program. Students should be advised that a felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the certification examination and/or attain state licensure. All graduate programs in SLP require the successful completion of supervised clinical fieldwork experiences. These experiences are offered through facilities and settings off campus and these settings require that the student complete a criminal background check and may require drug screening, and/or fingerprinting before beginning the experience. These will be completed at the student’s expense and the University and the SLP Program will have no obligation to refund tuition or otherwise accommodate students in the event that a criminal background check or drug screening renders the student ineligible to complete required courses or fieldwork.