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Applying for Teaching Credentials in California with a Criminal Record

Below is information becoming a teacher with a criminal record. To see if you are eligible for one of our criminal record clearing services, take our FREE Eligibility Check.


California continues to face a shortage of teachers. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that many potential teachers are under the impression that their felony or misdemeanor criminal record makes them ineligible to teach. The truth is that California law allows many people with felonies and misdemeanors to clear their record and prove themselves worthy to teach.

What is the CCTC and can they affect me?

The California Commission on Teacher Credentials (CCTC) awards these credentials to post-baccalaureate students who complete accredited teaching programs and successfully pass the character and identification clearance.

The CCTC is comprised of seven members, including an elementary teacher, a secondary teacher, one school board member, a school administrator, and three public representatives. If a teaching applicant has a criminal history, the CCTC requests submittal of a certified copy of (1) the compete investigation or arrest from the appropriate law enforcement agency for each conviction; (2) court documents showing the filed charge(s); (3) a complete court docket showing the plea(s) entered; (4) verification that any conditions of probation were satisfied; and (5) a court order expunging the record or a certificate of rehabilitation, if applicable. An applicant is required to disclose all convictions, regardless of how much time has passed.

The CCTC considers the severity of the misconduct, the evidence of rehabilitative efforts, including proof of community work, letters from counselors, instructors, employers, etc., and certified court orders expunging the criminal record.

The CCTC begins its review process upon receipt of all appropriate documentation. The CCTC considers the severity of the misconduct, the evidence of rehabilitative efforts, including proof of community work, letters from counselors, instructors, employers, etc., and certified court orders expunging the criminal record. The burden of proof lies with the applicant to prove that he or she should receive credential despite his or her criminal history. Therefore, it is recommended that prior to applying, the applicant gather as much information as possible to demonstrate his or her steps towards successful rehabilitation, which includes orders of expungement for the conviction.

When Will the CCTC Deny Teaching Credentials?

The CCTC will automatically deny credentials to anyone who (1) has been convicted of any sex offense as defined by California Education Code § 44010 (2) has been convicted of narcotics offenses that violate Health and Safety Code sections 11350 to 11355, 11361, 11366, 11368, 11377 to 11382, and 11550— or the equivalent in another state (3) has been found to be insane by a federal or state court or (4) has been judicially determined to be a mentally disordered sex offender under the law.

Olga Sattarova holds a juris doctor from the University of Utah's S.J. Quinney College of Law. Mathew Higbee Esq. contributed to this article.