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Can a school district turn down employment due to a petty theft infraction ?

San Bernardino, CA |

In 2008 I received a petty theft infraction ; however, the original charges were burglary (m). I have since worked for two school districts and received a credential in the state of California. In addition, I was awarded a certificate of clearance by the ctc after the incident. A month after receiving my credential I was offered a teaching position. I was informed a few days ago that the district is reviewing my background check and they are leaving it up to the superintendent to approve my employment. This does not make sense because if the ctc approved me the school district should clear me as well. Any info on this situation would help. I am thinking they are looking at the original charges vs. the amended charge

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Attorney answers 4


No law generally prohibits an employer from considering the criminal record of an applicant. If you believe that your employer may be misunderstand what your background check has reveale, perhaps a letter offering to clarify the amended charge would be a good idea.

This answer is a general interpretation of the law and is not fact specific to your case. Likewise it does not create an attorney-client relationship. You should seek an attorney for a review of your specific facts and documents.


It is POSSIBLE that the court system is coming back with a misdemeanor case number and that's why its still in the system. In California, BY LAW, all infractions are to be sealed and destroyed after 3 years. If a case started out as a misdemeanor, was reduced to an infraction, the computer system may not have purged the record. I would suggest a motion to seal the record, as it has been more than three years. Fix that, then appeal the school district's decision as based on error.

Good luck.

The opinions rendered herein are based on general principles of law. Laws vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and there are often numerous factors which can render advice or an opinion inapplicable. You should NOT make any decisions about the handling of a legal matter without first directly consulting with an attorney about the particulars of your case.


I see this matter very differently than the other attorney responders.

CA Commission on Teacher Credentialing is a State licensing agency. It's great that CoTC did not revoke or limit your credential (very likely that was a potential result of your 484 offense). But CoTC has nothing to do with the hiring and employment policies and practices of individual school districts.

Individual school districts in California have the right to set their own hiring policies. Of course, they are required by law to hire credentialed teachers for all teacher positions, but they are free to establish the employment bar more restrictively than that. The CoTC has no jurisdiction or authority on the issue.

Some school districts are very flexible about prior criminal offenses. Some are very formulaic and rigid. Many school districts track the State's bases for licensing and deny employment based on either or both (1) prior criminal convictions and/or (2) unethical or improper activity. Courts have upheld policies denying employment (as distinct from credentialing) on both bases.

You might talk to the union reps for the teachers of the school district you are hoping to work in. They likely cannot act for you as you are not represented, but they tend to have a wealth of institutional knowledge and memory. That can be helpful in assessing whether there is any hope of persuading the district to exercise its discretionary powers in your favor here.

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I recommend that you pay for a consultation with Christine McCall. This is her area of expertise. Her Avvo profile is here:

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