Fingerprinting fact sheet

Obtaining Fingerprint Clearance

You may get fingerprint clearance at any of several locations. All will charge a fee.

  • All nine educational service districts (ESDs). You must make an appointment in advance.
  • Police departments, including the WSP headquarters in Olympia. If you have your prints taken at your local law enforcement office, you will need to bring a prepared fingerprint card with you. To request a card contact Student Services.

Visit the Office of Professional Practices website for additional information.

Make sure your hands are in good condition for printing:

  • Use hand lotion several times a day for at least three days before your appointment (do not use lotion the day of fingerprinting).
  • If you have long fingernails, trim them to a reasonable length. If the technician cannot obtain good fingerprints, you will need to repeat the process.

About fingerprinting

  • Fingerprint clearance is valid for two years from the date of FBI clearance.
  • You will be notified (via U.S. mail) by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction only if your prints are rejected. OSPI will state the reason your prints were rejected and your next steps.
  • If you need to be reprinted for any reason, do so as soon as possible or risk delays in your practicum placement.

Character and fitness supplement

The Character and Fitness Supplement is part of the application for certification to teach in the State of Washington. If you answer “yes” to any of the questions on the Character and Fitness Supplement, the Office of Professional Practices will conduct a formal investigation of the noted situation. An investigation begins only after the WSP and FBI receive your fingerprints.

Please note that no candidate from WSU may begin the final field experience (student teaching) until the background investigation is complete and OPP provides authorization via a Letter of Clearance.

Procedure if you answer “yes”

When you answer “yes” on any pertinent part of the application, you must submit applicable documentation with the application. The documentation you submit is held in your file until you are fingerprinted. This information is then sent to the OPP in Olympia and a background investigation is conducted. The results are communicated to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI)

Full disclosure is required. Failure to submit, or submission of incomplete information, will delay OSPI’s decision on issuing a certificate. Any falsification or deliberate misrepresentation, including omission of a material fact, in completing the Character and Fitness Supplement can be grounds for denial of certification.

Sealed records

If you were arrested, charged or convicted as a minor, and you were advised by the court that your records were sealed, your arrest/charge/conviction will still appear when the FBI conducts its background check. FBI records are retained for 80 years. Even though you do not have to report a sealed incident for employment purposes, you are required to report it for certification purposes.

Procedure for documentation

  1. Prepare an all-inclusive, detailed, written narrative of the incident. Include when and where it occurred, names of others who were present as witnesses or also involved, and all applicable details. This is your perspective and your chance to explain the situation.
  2. Obtain a copy of the police report. This is the arresting officer’s narrative of the incident.
  3. Obtain a copy of the judgment and sentencing document from the court.
  4. Obtain a copy of the results of any evaluation that may have been required (e.g., alcohol evaluation, psychological evaluation, driving school).
  5. Obtain an up-to-date copy of your driving abstract, if appropriate.
  6. Include any other information that will expedite the investigation, such as the name of the person to whom you spoke at the courthouse or police station.