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Handbook of Operating Procedures
Chapter 4 - Personnel General
Publication Date: February 24, 2005
Responsible Executive: VP for Business Affairs

4.30 Criminal Background Checks

  1. Purpose

    The purpose of this policy is to outline the requirements and guidelines for the conduct of criminal background checks at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA).

  2. Policy
    1. In an effort to provide the safest possible environment for students, visitors, faculty, and staff, and enhance the security of physical resources, UTSA shall, consistent with the requirements of the law and prudent practices, conduct criminal background investigations on applicants or current employees who are under final consideration for a position that has been designated as security sensitive.
    2. Required

      It is the policy of UTSA to obtain:

      1. Criminal history record information on applicants who are under final consideration, following normal screening and selection processes, for a position that is designated as a security sensitive position.
      2. Criminal conviction record information on a current employee who is under consideration for a transfer, promotion or reclassification from a non-security position to a position designated as a security sensitive position; and
      3. Criminal conviction record information on a current employee who is under consideration for a transfer, promotion, or reclassification from one security sensitive position to another security sensitive position and on whom the institution did not previously obtain either criminal history record information or criminal conviction record information.
    3. Exemptions

      The following personnel actions are exempt from the requirements of subparts B. 2. and B. 3. above.

      1. Position reclassifications that result in a title change with no change in current responsibilities;
      2. Career progression promotion occurring within the current department (e.g., associate professor to full professor or administrative assistant I to administrative assistant II); and
      3. Involuntary transfers or reclassifications.
    4. Optional Background Check

      The President or President's designee may request a criminal background check (criminal conviction record) on a current employee who is not a party to a job transfer or reclassification. Management will prepare, in writing, a business case that substantiates the need to conduct the investigation and submit it to the appropriate Vice President (or the President's designee) who will approve the request for a criminal background check (criminal conviction record). Once approved, the Vice President (or President's designee) will submit it to the Office of Human Resources (OHR) who will coordinate with the UTSA Police to request that the investigation be completed. If the current employee refuses to complete, sign and submit the Criminal Background Check Form in response to a request made in accordance with this policy, management may take appropriate action.

  3. Procedures

    The President of UTSA or the President's delegate will designate which positions or areas are security sensitive.

    1. Responsible Parties
      1. The department hiring official is responsible to obtain a signed authorization form for those persons requiring a criminal background check before requesting the investigation. The authorization form is linked to this policy and includes the notice required by Texas Government Code 559.003, as it may be amended from time to time. Individuals refusing to sign the authorization are eliminated from further consideration.
      2. The UTSA Police are responsible for conducting the criminal background investigation and communicating the results to the hiring official and to the OHR.
      3. The department hiring official, in conjunction with the Department Vice President, or his designee, makes the decision to offer employment to an applicant or to promote, transfer or reclassify an employee, after a criminal background check has been conducted and results reviewed.
      4. If circumstances require that an offer or decision be made before the completion of the investigation, the offer must be in writing and state that the offer is contingent on the completion of a satisfactory criminal background investigation.
    2. All positions designated to be security sensitive shall be so identified in the job description and in the advertisement for the position with the sentence: "This position is security sensitive."
    3. The criminal history record information obtained by UTSA may be used only for the purpose of evaluating applicants for employment, reclassification and in managing business risks. This policy does not automatically exclude from consideration for employment all individuals with criminal convictions. UTSA shall in no way use that information to discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability or age.
    4. Criminal history record information, including conviction information contained therein, will be regarded as confidential as required by law and will not be made a part of the applicant's file or the employee's personnel file or communicated to any unauthorized person. Under Texas Government Code, Section 411.085, the unauthorized release of criminal history record information is a criminal offense and, consequently, the institution should seek legal advice with respect to any requested release of such information.
    5. After the expiration of the probationary term of the individual's employment, the UTSA Police shall destroy all criminal history record information that the institution obtained about the individual. If the position is one that does not have a probationary period, then the chief of police shall destroy the information 180 days after it is obtained.
    6. The procedures required to administer and manage this program are located on the HR web site.
  4. Guidelines
    1. In determining which areas to designate as security sensitive, the Vice Presidents should reference the criteria as contained in the UT Systems Policy UTS124, Criminal Background Checks for Security-Sensitive Positions.
    2. Security sensitive positions designated by UTSA shall include:
      1. All senior level administrator positions. Senior level administrator positions are executive officers and administrative officers, as identified in the Handbook of Operating Procedures.
      2. Positions that have responsibility for providing child-care in a child-care facility, as that term is defined in Texas Human Resources Code ยง42.002(3), as it may be amended from time to time.
      3. Positions that have direct access to, or responsibility for pharmaceuticals, select agents, or controlled substances.
  5. Definitions
    1. Applicant: An individual who applies for an open position with UTSA, whether the individual is an outside candidate or a current employee of UTSA. This could also include an individual involved in a reclassification action. It does not include volunteers or contractors.
    2. Controlled Substance: This term has the meaning assigned in Texas Health & Safety Code, Section 481.002, as that section may be amended from time to time.
    3. Criminal Conviction Record Information: Public information by the Department of Public Safety, as provided in Texas Government Code, Section 411.135.
    4. Criminal History Record Information: Information collected about a person by a criminal justice agency that consists of identifiable descriptions and notations of arrests, detentions, indictments, information, and other formal criminal charges and their dispositions, as more fully described in the Texas Government Code, Section 411.082.
    5. Hiring Official: Appointed by the Vice President of the department and charged with the responsibility to ensure criminal background checks are performed when required and the results reviewed before job offers or other personnel decisions are made or executed.
    6. Position: Both full-time and part-time positions, whether the position is filled or to be filled by a regular or a temporary worker, but not including a position filled by a temporary worker provided by a temporary employment agency; the employment agency should be expected to conduct and be held responsible for conducting the criminal background check.
    7. Security sensitive positions: Shall be restricted to those positions described in Texas Education Code, Section 51.215 (c) and Texas Government Code, Section 411.094 (a) (2), as those sections may be amended from time to time.
    8. Select Agent: This term has the meaning assigned in 18 U.S.C., Section 175b, as that section may be amended from time to time.
  6. Authority

    The statutory authority for this policy and procedure is provided by:

    1. Texas Education Code, Section 51.215. Access to Police Records of Employment Applicants.
    2. Texas Government Code, Section 411.094. Access to Criminal History Record Information: Institution of Higher Education.
    3. Texas Government Code, Section 411.135. Access to Certain Information by Public.
  7. References
    1. Questions regarding Criminal Background Investigations on non-faculty positions should be directed to the Office of Human Resources, 458-4250, or email:
    2. Questions regarding Criminal Background investigations on faculty should be directed to the Provost's Office at or telephone 458-4110.