Seattle Public Schools

Forms and Processes

Background Checks

In order to ensure that we are providing a safe environment for our students, all paid and volunteer personnel of community based organizations who work with students , including PTSA-contracted after school enrichment providers, must pass an annual criminal background screen.

Choosing your background check: 

  • If you will work with students without supervision OR have lived in Washington State fewer than three years, you must complete a national background check in your first year (see two options below), and a state background check in subsequent years
  • If you will work with students supervised by another adult AND you have lived in Washington State for 3 or more years, you must complete a state background check

State background check: 

WATCH is the criminal history database provided by Washington State Patrol. SPS schools and most local organizations use it to screen their employees and volunteers. Individuals or their employers can order WATCH background checks for an $11 fee. If your employer or organization is a registered non-profit they can apply for a free WATCH account (see WATCH website for details). 

If you receive a payment for your service from a PTA or another non-SPS entity, or volunteer with an SPS partner organization at SPS schools, SPS cannot run your WATCH background check. It must be performed by the organization who pays or supervises you, or it can be ordered by you directly. 

National background check options (online or in person):

  1. Online background check
    Seattle Public Schools uses Sterling Volunteers to provide a fast and convenient screening service. You can utilize Sterling Volunteers if you work or volunteer with SPS schools and are not required by law to be fingerprinted (in general you are required to complete fingerprinting if you receive direct payments from SPS).
    • Order your background check with Sterling Volunteers.
    • If you are prompted to enter a special code, use 9xurbtv Sterling Volunteers service fee is $39.99, and the organization/individual are responsible for payment.
    • You will receive your background check results in a few days – an email will alert you when they are ready for you to review. To share your background check result with your supervisor or the person who issued your contract, log back into your Sterling Volunteers account and share the report with them via email.
    • Former residents of the state of New York – please read: $39.99 fee is charged by Sterling Volunteers to search through national sources of criminal records. However, the State of New York charges an additional fee of at least $95 – it will be reflected in your cart before you check out. You may proceed to access the background check online and receive your results in a few days, or you may choose to complete the fingerprinting process. 
  2. Fingerprinting at the John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence
    Applicants who prefer to complete their national background check in person can utilize SPS fingerprinting services. Inquire with your SPS contact (staff member who issued your contract or the signatory of your agreement) to learn how to schedule your fingerprinting appointment through the SPS Human Resources Department ($60 fee)

What if something comes up on a background check?

Partners must review criminal record reports of their paid and volunteer personnel, and have a policy for disqualifying offenses at least as rigorous as the policy used for SPS volunteers. For a basic understanding of disqualifying offences, review this flowchart. If something comes up on a background check that is NOT included on the list of disqualifying offences, please send the information to for review.