Having a misdemeanor on your record can make finding work more difficult, especially if you want to work in a school. Schools have a duty to protect students, so even minor crimes may disqualify you from employment. However, the answer isn’t always clear-cut.

Here’s what you need to know about working in a school with a misdemeanor conviction.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: In most cases, you can still work at a school with a misdemeanor. It depends on the specific crime, when it occurred, and school district policies. You may need to go through additional background checks and appeals processes.

How Misdemeanors Affect School Employment

When it comes to working at a school, having a misdemeanor on your record can have an impact on your chances of being hired. Schools prioritize the safety and well-being of their students, which is why they conduct thorough background checks on potential employees.

Schools Conduct Thorough Background Checks

Schools understand the importance of hiring individuals who are trustworthy and responsible. As a result, they often conduct comprehensive background checks to ensure that candidates have a clean record. These checks typically include criminal history, including misdemeanors.

Schools want to ensure that they are providing a safe and secure environment for their students, so any criminal offenses, including misdemeanors, can be considered during the hiring process.

Policies Vary By State and District

It is important to note that policies regarding the employment of individuals with misdemeanors vary by state and district. Some states have strict guidelines that prohibit individuals with certain types of misdemeanors from working at schools, while others may have more lenient policies.

For example, in California, the Education Code mandates that individuals with certain misdemeanor convictions, such as those involving drugs or violence, are ineligible to work at schools. However, this does not mean that individuals with misdemeanors are automatically disqualified from working at a school.

Each case is evaluated on an individual basis, taking into consideration the nature of the offense, the time that has passed since the conviction, and the individual’s rehabilitation efforts.

Opportunity to Appeal May Be Available

If an individual with a misdemeanor conviction is deemed ineligible to work at a school, there may be an opportunity to appeal the decision. This allows the individual to present additional evidence or demonstrate that they have taken steps to rehabilitate themselves since the offense.

The final decision will ultimately depend on the discretion of the school district or state education department.

It is important to remember that having a misdemeanor does not automatically disqualify someone from working at a school. Each case is evaluated individually, and factors such as the nature of the offense, the time that has passed, and rehabilitation efforts are taken into consideration.

Ultimately, schools prioritize the safety and well-being of their students, and any criminal offenses, including misdemeanors, may impact employment decisions.

Types of Misdemeanors and School Jobs

When it comes to working at a school with a misdemeanor on your record, the type of misdemeanor can greatly impact your chances of employment. Let’s take a closer look at the different types of misdemeanors and how they may affect your ability to work in a school setting.

Violent Crimes Typically Prohibited

Violent crimes such as assault, battery, or domestic violence are generally viewed as serious offenses and can greatly hinder your chances of working at a school. Schools prioritize the safety and well-being of their students, so individuals with a history of violent behavior may be automatically disqualified from certain positions.

It’s important to note that each school district may have its own policies and guidelines regarding the hiring of individuals with violent misdemeanor convictions.

Drug Charges Often Prevent Employment

Drug-related offenses, including possession, distribution, or driving under the influence, can also pose significant obstacles when it comes to securing a job at a school. Schools have a responsibility to provide a safe and drug-free environment for their students, so they may be reluctant to hire individuals with a history of drug offenses.

However, the severity of the offense, the time that has passed since the conviction, and any efforts made towards rehabilitation can be taken into consideration during the hiring process.

Financial Crimes Less Concerning

While financial crimes such as theft, fraud, or embezzlement are serious offenses, they may be viewed differently when it comes to employment at a school. These types of misdemeanors generally involve non-violent offenses and may not directly impact the safety of students.

However, schools may still conduct thorough background checks and evaluate the circumstances surrounding the offense before making a hiring decision.

Jobs With Student Contact Face More Scrutiny

It’s important to note that certain school jobs that involve direct contact with students, such as teaching or counseling positions, may face stricter scrutiny when it comes to misdemeanor convictions.

Schools have a duty to protect their students and ensure their well-being, so they may be more cautious when hiring individuals with any type of misdemeanor on their record. This is particularly true for positions that involve working closely with vulnerable populations, such as special needs students.

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Improving Your Chances of School Employment

Having a misdemeanor on your record can make finding employment challenging, especially in certain fields such as education. However, there are steps you can take to improve your chances of working at a school.

Be Upfront and Demonstrate Rehabilitation

When applying for a position at a school, it is important to be honest about your past and the misdemeanor on your record. Instead of hiding it, address it head-on in your application or during the interview.

Explain what happened, take responsibility for your actions, and highlight the steps you have taken to rehabilitate yourself. Showing remorse and the efforts you have made to change can go a long way in convincing potential employers to give you a chance.

Get the Misdemeanor Expunged If Possible

If you have a misdemeanor on your record, it may be worth exploring the possibility of getting it expunged. Expungement is a legal process that removes certain criminal convictions from your record, making them inaccessible to the general public.

While the process and eligibility requirements vary by jurisdiction, having your record expunged can significantly improve your chances of finding employment, including at a school. It is advisable to consult with a lawyer who specializes in expungement to understand your options.

Apply to Multiple Districts

When searching for employment at a school with a misdemeanor on your record, it is important to cast a wide net. Apply to multiple school districts and explore opportunities in different areas. Some districts may have more lenient policies or be willing to give applicants with misdemeanors a chance.

By applying to multiple districts, you increase your chances of finding a school that is willing to look past your past mistakes and focus on your qualifications and potential as an employee.

Consider Volunteering First

If you are struggling to find employment at a school due to your misdemeanor, consider volunteering first. Volunteering can provide you with an opportunity to gain experience, build relationships with school staff, and demonstrate your commitment to education.

It also allows you to showcase your skills and work ethic, which may lead to future employment opportunities. Additionally, volunteering can help you establish a positive reputation within the school community, making it easier to secure a paid position in the future.

Remember, each school district has its own policies and hiring practices, so it is essential to research and understand the specific requirements and regulations of the districts you are interested in.

While having a misdemeanor may present challenges, it does not necessarily mean that you cannot work at a school. By being upfront, demonstrating rehabilitation, exploring expungement options, applying to multiple districts, and considering volunteering, you can increase your chances of finding employment in the education field.


While any crime on your record can complicate the school job search process, a misdemeanor conviction doesn’t necessarily prohibit you from employment. Take steps to demonstrate your rehabilitation and readiness to work safely with students.

With persistence and understanding of district policies, you can find a rewarding school job despite your record.

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