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Home » Certification » Fingerprints & Background Checks

Fingerprints & Background Checks

Fingerprint records and background checks are required by Washington state law for:

  • Applicants who do not possess a valid Washington teaching certificate at the time of application. (RCW 28A.410.010)
  • New employees of a school district, an educational service district, state school for the deaf, state school for the blind, and their contractors who have regularly unsupervised access to children be fingerprinted for a background record check. (RCW 28A.400.303)

To School District Human Resource Personnel

Attached is a description of the WATCH Interim Clear Process. Below you will see a list of actions and process needed to use the WATCH process to assist your district in the interim hiring process.

For a district to request a WSP Interim Clearance for the applicants they want to hire, the applicants must be:

  • Classified position applicants
  • Currently certified educator applicants without current fingerprint results on file, and
  • Certification applicants with pending positions

The responsibility is with the school districts to:

  • Complete the WATCH process through the Washington State Patrol.
    • Agencies who do not currently have an active WATCH account will need to go to the WSP WATCH website and fill out the New Account Application for the non-profit account.
    • Information and set up process can be found at https://fortress.wa.gov/wsp/watch/Home/Index
  • To be accepted, the WATCH results must indicate No Record Found or No Exact Match Found. OSPI Fingerprint Records Office will not be able to authorize an Interim Clear result for applicants with conviction information or those that are unable to obtain a ‘No Record Found’ result.
  • The district HR office will need to send a copy of the WATCH document to the Fingerprint Records Office by email at oppfp@k12.wa.us
  • The Fingerprint Records staff will enter the results: “Interim Clear” in the WSP results field which will be available for view in EDS/E-Cert system.
  • The district cannot place the applicant into the position or have access to students until the “Interim Clear” status is posted and a permit is issued if applicable.
  • For Certification applicants, the district should send to cert@k12.wa.us  that the individual’s interim clear is on file.

With the “Interim Clear” status, the Professional Certification Office will be able to issue a temporary permit for those who meet all other certification requirements.

The responsibility of the applicant is:

  • The applicant will continue to follow all application processes in E-Cert.

Washington State Preparation Programs:

  • A pre-residency clearance is not available through the WATCH process because it is not a certificate. Through the WATCH process, with district request and program approval, a candidate could apply for an intern substitute certificate. Other limited certificates are available through the WATCH process with district request. Applicants must meet all other certification requirements.

In addition, the law authorizes approved private schools to require their employees with regularly unsupervised access to children be fingerprinted for a background record check. (RCW 28A.195.080)

Individuals working in school district early learning programs who need background checks for the school district and the Department of Early Learning (DEL) may use the results from the DEL background check to satisfy the school district background requirement. Application form and process.

The background record check consists of a check through the Washington State Patrol (WSP) and Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).

If you believe the results of your background check from the FBI are not complete or are wrong you have an opportunity to complete or challenge the accuracy of the information as described below.

Send a written challenge request to the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division by writing to the following address:

FBI CJIS Division
Attention: Correspondence Group
1000 Custer Hollow Road
Clarksburg, WV 26306

Your written request to the FBI should clearly identify the information that you feel is inaccurate or incomplete and should include copies of any available proof or documents that support your claim. The correspondence group will contact appropriate agencies to try to verify or correct challenged entries for you. When the FBI receives official communication from the agency with jurisdiction over the matter, the FBI will make appropriate changes and notify you of the outcome. (This process is described in 28 C.F.R. § 16.34)

The results of the WSP and FBI background check are forwarded to OSPI and are entered into an online Educational Data System (EDS). All school districts, educational service districts, private schools, BIA-funded Native American schools, colleges, and universities in Washington state have access to the EDS and are able to view the results of the WSP and FBI background record check.

Criminal history conviction information reported from the WSP and/or FBI of all school district, private schools and educational service district (ESD) employees is returned to the appropriate agency after the criminal history report is processed by our office.

Take a tour through the Fingerprint Records site by clicking though the links to information and resources on the right-hand side of each page.