Implementing PREP Programs in NYC Schools: Fingerprinting and Security Clearance FAQ
Before an educator can implement any program in New York City public schools, the New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE) requires that they be fingerprinted and supply certain documents to support a background check for security clearance. Educators cannot work in the schools until they have a security clearance and are approved by the NYC DOE Institutional Review Board (IRB). Your organization should have its own process for getting fingerprinted if they are working in NYC DOE schools. The process we describe below is specifically for approval to distribute survey links to students.
Below we answer your questions about fingerprinting and security clearance for NYC schools. Brace yourself — there are many bureaucratic layers to this process! Just keep in mind that the underlying purpose is to protect student safety.
Terms You'll Need to Know
|New York City Department of Education
|Institutional Review Board (note that there are many IRBs, but in this case, we're talking about the NYC DOE IRB). This body is charged with reviewing and approving research in NYC schools, as well as any evaluations that involve students, are conducted by an external organization, and were not initiated on the DOE's behalf.
|Personnel Eligibility Tracking System. PETS is NYC DOE's online system for managing the security clearance process.
|CITI Human Subjects
Research (IRB) Training
|The Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) online training is a required orientation for the protection of human participants in research. We are not conducting research, but the training is required in order for you to be added to the IRB protocol.
|ACT for Youth
|The IRB protocol is our NYC IRB-approved plan for conducting an evaluation in the NYC schools. All educators distributing surveys in NYC schools on behalf of a PREP project must be added to our protocol.
|ACT for Youth
IRB PETS roster
|Our PETS roster is the list of PREP and ACT personnel approved by the IRB to distribute surveys in NYC schools.
Don't miss the detail in the FAQ below! In general, required steps are as follows:
- Complete required training: Take the CITI IRB online training and send your certificate to Vicki Baum at ACT for Youth. Vicki will initiate the process to have you added to the ACT for Youth IRB protocol. IRB will then approve you to begin the security clearance process.
- Submit required documents: Once you've been approved to start the process, NYC DOE IRB requires you to email the IRB approval letter, copies of your state ID and social security card, and a current email address and phone number to the IRB.
- Get fingerprinted for background check: If you have already been fingerprinted your name will be added to the ACT for Youth IRB PETS roster. If you have not been fingerprinted, PETS will respond with a nomination email. Following PETS instructions, get fingerprinted and submit documentation to PETS. The background check will be conducted through PETS. Once the background check is complete, you will be added to the ACT for Youth IRB PETS roster as approved personnel with security clearance.
The security clearance process applies to PREP project staff who will enter an NYC school in connection with:
- Evidence-based programming
- Adulthood Preparation programming
- Any program implemented in an NYC school during regular school hours
- Any program implemented in an NYC school outside of regular school hours
All educators who will be in a New York City public school must be fingerprinted through the Institutional Review Board (IRB) Personnel Eligibility Tracking System (PETS). Fingerprinting by other agencies may not be accepted by NYC DOE. For the purposes of the ACT for Youth IRB roster, the IRB will be able to use the information you send via email to add your name to the roster if you have already been fingerprinted through PETS.
Once an educator has received NYC DOE security clearance, they do not need to be fingerprinted again.
If you have already completed IRB CITI training for some other reason, please email the certificate of completion to Vicki.
Educators should start this process as soon as they are hired, as it may take several weeks to complete each step and receive security clearance.
Step 1: Complete CITI IRB Human Subjects Research (IRB) Training
Create an IRB manager account:
Register for a CITI account:
- Go to citiprogram.org
- Click "register" to create an account.
- In the box marked "Select Your Organization Affiliation," type "Cornell University." The box will auto-fill. Make sure you don't accidentally select "Weill Cornell Medical College" or "Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar."
- Fill out all required fields on each page. You will be asked to provide basic information such as name and email address, username and password, security questions and answers, country of residence, etc.
- Go through each step until you get to Step 5. Most people answer "No" to the questions about continuing professional certification.
You can complete the training on your own if you would like. You'll need to complete the Human Subjects Research (IRB) Training. If you would like to complete the training with a member of the ACT for Youth evaluation team available to ask questions, we can set up a Zoom meeting to work through this together.
Email your certificate of completion to Vicki. Vicki will initiate the process to have you added to the ACT for Youth IRB protocol. IRB will then approve you to begin the security clearance process.
Step 2: Submit Documents for Background Check
Once you have been added by the NYC DOE IRB to our IRB protocol, Vicki will send you instructions for your next steps. You will be required to email the IRB approval letter that Vicki provides, a copy of your government-issued state ID (for example, a driver's license), a copy of your signed social security card, and a current email address and phone number to IRB@schools.nyc.gov. If you do not feel comfortable sending a copy of your signed social security card please indicate this in your email. The NYC DOE IRB should work with you to find an alternative way to provide this information.
Step 3: Get Fingerprinted for Background Check
Your organization should have its own process for getting fingerprinted if they are working in NYC DOE schools. If you have not been fingerprinted, after you have emailed your documents to the IRB, PETS (PETSAdminSupport@schools.nyc.gov) will respond with a nomination email. Following PETS instructions, get fingerprinted and submit documentation to PETS.
After you submit documentation of fingerprinting to PETS (PETSAdminSupport@schools.nyc.gov), the background check will be conducted through PETS. Once the background check is complete, you will be added to the ACT for Youth IRB PETS roster as approved personnel with security clearance.
I still have questions!
If you have any further questions, please contact Vicki Baum.