Students in contextual education, such as Internship and CPE, are in positions of power and authority and may be working in relationship with uniquely vulnerable populations. Therefore, in order to support safe communities, model appropriate ethical practices, and protect Iliff from liability, students must complete an approved Iliff background check before beginning any community-engaged course.
The background check includes review by an outside agency of federal, multi-state, and county criminal records, and sex offender registry. Iliff is particularly concerned with crimes of violence, other forms of exploitation of the vulnerable, misuse of power or ethical breaches of trust.
Students are informed of the background check requirement through the admissions application and then receive instruction from the Office of Professional Formation as part of their internship preparation. The background check process is completed in the quarter prior to that in which the student begins contextual education. Approval of contextual education placement is contingent on a successful background check. At Iliff’s discretion, students may be required to repeat the background check. Students may also be required to complete a background check at the request and evaluation of their site placement organization. This is separate from the Iliff background check and neither screening may be substituted for the other.
A record of conviction or arrest is not, in and of itself, grounds to refuse internship/CPE placement. Background check reports are reviewed on a case-by-case basis following the procedures outlined below, and to the extent practical, in compliance with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). In the evaluation, Iliff takes into consideration the fact that oppressed groups and other minorities are disproportionately impacted in negative ways by the legal system.
In the quarter prior to contextual education placement, students must authorize and complete a background check. The process is as follows:
- Students read and sign the Disclosure & Consent form. To ensure accurate records and that Iliff does not make decisions based on data from someone else with the same name and birthdate, a Social Security Number is required. Alternatively, students without a SSN will need to provide street addresses for the last seven years.
- Students then complete the online background check application. The background check identifies both convictions and, where appropriate due to the nature of a particular placement, arrests. Iliff evaluates arrests because crimes such as child molestation and sexual/domestic violence are often not prosecuted. This is of particular concern due to the potential contact interns might have with vulnerable populations, unsupervised time with individuals, etc. In evaluating arrest records, Iliff will check police reports for evidence that criminal behavior occurred.
- Where the background check identifies a record of arrest(s) or conviction(s) which suggest ethical violations or that the student might be a danger to others, the Office of Professional Formation will verify and evaluate the accuracy of the report in consultation with the student and, as necessary, constitute a committee made up of the Office of Professional Formation, the student’s Degree Director, and the Academic VP/Dean to meet with the student and review the report. In determining whether and where the student may be placed, the committee will consider:
- After the committee renders a decision about the suitability of placement, the student will receive a copy of the Background Check Decision Report which serves as documentation of the evaluation and notification to the student of the decision regarding the possibility of placement.
- The nature of the placement, the structures of supervision and oversight, and the populations served.
- The nature of the conduct for which the student was charged or convicted including:
- how long ago the conduct occurred;
- the seriousness of the conduct;
- connections between prior misconduct and potential role and responsibilities at the site;
- whether the infraction is likely to recur;
- how similar instances have been handled in the past;
- whether there was a pattern of prior misconduct;
- truthfulness of candidate in disclosing and discussing past history; and
- evidence of rehabilitation and restitution.
After the committee renders a decision about the suitability of placement, the student will receive a copy of the Background Check Decision Report which serves as documentation of the evaluation and notification to the student of the decision regarding the possibility of placement.
Students who wish to challenge the decision in the Background Check Decision Report should follow the Student Grievance Policy Policy in the Student Handbook.
Please contact the Office of Professional Formation with any questions about this policy or practice.
What Actions Might Be Taken
Following the review, the committee will render one of the following decisions:
- The student is approved for contextual education without restrictions, as there were not sufficient grounds to set special restrictions for the student entering contextual education;
- The student is approved for contextual education with restrictions, such as informing the supervisor and/or the seminar instructor of background history, or allowing the student to participate only in a setting with appropriate safeguards; or
- The student is not approved for contextual education.
A decision not to allow the student to enter contextual education might mean that the student cannot stay in a professional degree program. Students unable to complete Internship or CPE due to the result of their background check may consider applying to transfer into a degree program that does not require Internship or CPE.
Confidentiality of the Process/Limitations of Use
The content of background checks is confidential and handled accordingly. Background check reports are securely archived by the background check provider.
The information gathered from the background check is used only within the process of approving and supervising contextual education. The documentation or immigration status of students is not under review. Information gathered is not available to other Iliff faculty or staff and does not affect academic, financial aid, or business office relationships with the student.
As a condition of placement, a student may be asked to appropriately inform community supervisor(s), Iliff Internship Seminar Instructor, and/or the student’s denominational judicatory of the content of the background check. If the student declines to share this information, Iliff possesses the right to decline to place them, which could lead to removal from the degree program.