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What are my chances of getting hired as a school counselor in California with a misdemeanor of petty theft in my record?

Oxnard, CA |
Filed under: Criminal defense

Back in 2004 (I was 21 yrs old), I was caught stealing at Macy's. My friend was caught but I voluntarily admitted (out of guilt) that I had too. I was hoping my honesty & it being a first time offense would count for something, but it didn't. I have had the case expunged and dismissed since then. That is the only thing on my record. Now I have my state license to be a school counselor but I have had no luck getting a call back from schools & agencies I've applied for. Can it be they are overlooking my application based on my past record? Should I be looking into working at a different field? I know the field is competitive so I'm feeling as if I don't stand a chance compared to those with a clean record.

Attorney Answers 4

  1. Best answer

    As an attorney with decades of experience in both public employment and professional/occupational State licensing, I disagree with the consensus of the other lawyers here: I think your instincts are exactly right and that this is an element of your candidacy that is burdening you in obtaining employment in a school district or public agency or educational agency. Your prior offense is not a disqualifying condition, meaning that the districts are free to hire you, but it does constitute "baggage" that can be outcome-determinative in a highly competitive circumstances such as these very scarce positions in the current market.

    Moreover, because your prior offense is not a legally disqualifying condition, there are no sound legal remedies to conclude the problem of this unfortunate baggage.

    My only constructive suggestion is to take a leap and try dealing with this element of your personal candidacy pro-actively and aggressively. If you get the opportunity (or can make one), use this piece of your personal experience to illustrate the unique qualities of empathy, insight, credibility, and student-counselor connection that you can bring to bear in performance of the position. You already know that this prior is not invisible and not of no consequence. Try the other approach a few times and see if you cannot use it to forge a personal connection that can work for you in the employment market. What do you have to lose?

    No legal advice here. READ THIS BEFORE you contact me! My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as if they were legal advice. I give legal advice ONLY in the course of a formal attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by joint execution of a written agreement for legal services. My law firm does not provide free consultations. Please do not call or write to me with a “few questions” that require me to analyze the specific facts of your history and your license application and prescribe for you how to get a State license. Send me an email to schedule a paid Consultation for that kind of information, direction, and assistance. My law firm presently accepts cases involving State and federal licenses and permits; discipline against State and federal licenses; and disciplinary and academic challenges to universities, colleges, boarding schools, and private schools. We take cases of wrongful termination or employment discrimination only if the claims involve peace officers, universities or colleges.

  2. Good question. Your prior record may not matter at all. How much experience do you have as a school counselor? Where did you get your undergraduate degree? Do you have a master's degree in education? How many people applied for the position?

    There could be many other factors that contribute to your not being hired. Without knowing the school counselor field better, it is hard to answer with any more certainty.

  3. Your record has been expunged. Also depends upon which school district you are applying for. It is a very competitive filed.

  4. The market is tough. Your prior record may have nothing to do with your situation.

    Andrew Roberts (818) 597-0633/ (805) 496-7777

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