Background Checks

What you need to know

  • Background checks are required of all students by the end of their first semester
  • There is more than one method to fulfill this requirement:
    • Ask your ELCA candidacy committee, denominational judicatory body or employer to send a copy of a recent background check to Luther Seminary, Associate Dean of Students office.
    • Complete a background check by logging into Oxford Document Management Company and following these instructions (.pdf)    Costs for the background check will be added to the students business office account.
    • International Students:  Check with International Student and Scholar Affairs office or the Dean of Students office.  The requirement is typically, but not always, fulfilled by the process of gaining a student visa.
  • The policy document is found here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What's the difference between the background check and a boundaries workshop?

A:  The background check is a search of the last seven-year period and includes a criminal history database search, a county record criminal check, motor vehicle check, and an employment background check (looking at issues of inappropriate conduct).

Boundaries workshops at Luther Seminary focus on issues faced by leaders in faith communities and focus specifically on self-care.  Boundaries workshops are scheduled several times during the academic year including during First Week for new students. Luther Seminary expects students to meet the Boundaries Workshop requirement within their first academic year and before placement in a teaching congregation, CPE, internship or similar situation.

 

Questions specific to Background Check?

Q: I’m only going part-time; does this background check policy apply to me? 

A: YES. This policy applies to “every student enrolled in a degree program at Luther Seminary.” 

Q: What is covered by the background check?

A: Luther Seminary requires a background check covering “a seven-year period covering a criminal history database search, a county record criminal check, motor vehicle check, and an employment background check (looking at issues of inappropriate conduct).”

Q: Why are you checking my driving history?

A: The motor vehicle check is mainly designed to review a history of DUIs or driving without a license. Parking tickets and speeding tickets are not issuesof concern (unless there are outstanding warrants for unpaid fine.)

Q: I have lived in six places in three states in the last seven years. Do I need to turn in all those past addresses?

A: Yes.

Q: I heard that only ELCA MDiv students had to do this.  Is that true?

A: NO. This is a Luther Seminary requirement. Students from all denominations and in all degree programs are required to complete this background check.  Luther Seminary does accept background checks from other denominational judicatory bodies.  Ask your denomination to forward a copy of the report to the Dean of Students at the seminary.

 

Q: I just did this with my ELCA candidacy committee. Why do I need to do this all over again?

A: You don’t need to do this afresh. Simply ask your synod candidacy committee to forward a copy of the report to the Dean of Students at the seminary. 

Q: If this is a graduation requirement, can I wait until my last semester to complete the requirement? 

A:   We ask that students complete this as soon as possible upon admission to Luther Seminary. Completing the background check is also a pre-requisite “for students placed in church or agency settings as part of their degree requirements ... Each student’s file will be updated as part of the preparation for internship placement.”

Q: Why are all students being checked? Is this really necessary?

A: We are honoring a high commitment to strengthening congregations as safe places and insuring that our own seminary environment is safe for all members – students, staff, faculty, and associated individuals. Many other seminaries are moving in this same direction. Medical schools have required similar checks of all students for some time.

Q: I have recently undergone a background check at another place of employment. May I substitute a copy of that report in place of doing this all over again?

A:  If the background check at your place of employment covered comparable topics and time-frame, you may request that a copy be submitted to Luther Seminary. The seminary’s policy includes several checks covering a seven-year period: criminal history database search, a county records criminal check, motor vehicle, and employment background check. If the background check at your place of employment covered comparable material, you may request that a copy be submitted. The review committee will make a final determination if the report from your employer meets the seminary's requirements.  The report must come directly from the other institution, it can not be a copy sent by you.

Q: Where do I send my materials?

A: Please direct all reports to:

Carrie Carroll, Dean of Students
Luther Seminary
2481 Como Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55108

Q: Can I e-mail that letter?

A: No. Letters need to come in print form.  E-mail and e-mail attachments can sometimes be blocked by security systems.

Q: How about sending by FAX?

A: YES.  Send the fax to 651-641-3517.  This fax number delivers directly to the Dean of Students.

Q: Who will see these reports? Don’t I deserve some privacy on these matters?

A: The reports will be seen only by the Dean of Students or members of the review committee. The committee members include the dean of students, the director for contextual learning, the academic dean or dean for specialized programs.

All materials will be stored in a secure, locked file in the Dean of Students' office. Upon graduation or withdrawal from studies, the files will be moved to another secure location and kept for six years. At that time the files will be shredded.

Q: Let’s say I once was in legal trouble.  Will that end my seminary studies?

A: The review committee will determine that on a case-by-case basis. If anything troublesome surfaces in the background report you will have an opportunity to explain in writing the circumstances surrounding the notation. You may also request a face-to-face meeting with the review committee. While information in the background check could lead to dismissal, it won’t necessarily do so.

Q: How can I get started on this?

A: If you are in the ELCA candidacy process, please ask your synod to forward a copy of the report you completed this past year. (You may need to sign a waiver for this to happen.)

Q: My denomination or synod did not do a background check.  Now what?

A: Luther Seminary has contracted with Oxford Document Management Company, Inc. to do the background checks. Students who still need a background check will find instructions in this PDF file.

Q: May I get a copy of my background to send to my denomination or synod or employer?

A: Students may request one copy of their background check.  Contact Student Affairs for a copy of the release form or print a copy of the attached form to complete.  The copy of the background report will only be sent to the institution provided; a copy will not be sent to the student.  Your written request will be retained in the file along with the original of the report. background check release form

Q: Will the fee for this appear automatically on my bill?

A: Since you need to request the background check and sign a waiver for the information to be sent to the seminary, you will know that the fee is coming. There will typically be two separate charges.  The amounts will vary for each person depending, in part, of the number of previous residential addresses and places of employment. The charge will then appear on your seminary bill. Current rates through Oxford Document Management can be viewed HERE

Q: I am an international student. How will I do this?

A: We have adapted the policy to fit the circumstances of those who have lived outside the USA the past seven years.

Q: I didn't know about this requirement when I started at Luther Seminary.  Why are you making me do this?

A: Participation in the background check process is mandatory for students who began classes after January 2006.  Students are notified about all the official policies of Luther Seminary upon admission and at various points during their time of study and occasional reminders via email.

Q: Can I e-mail that letter?

A: YES.  Send the fax to 651-641-3517.  This fax number delivers directly to the Dean of Students.

Q: How about sending by FAX?

A: No. The fax machine in the Dean of Students office is shared with many people and therefore not as private as mail or hand delivery in a sealed envelope.

 

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE BOUNDARIES WORKSHOP REQUIREMENT.

Q: I need to participate in the boundaries workshop? How do I sign up?

A: Boundaries workshops are scheduled several times during the academic year.  Typically a boundaries workshop is scheduled during First Week for new students.  Additional workshops are scheduled during the year in conjunction with Contextual Learning office, GTE Office and distributive learning events.  Workshop information is posted on Inside Luther, announced during internship orientation and via e-mail reminders.  Links to sign up up for upcoming workshops are found at the top of this page.

Q:  Do international students need to meet this requirement?

A: Yes.  If you have any questions, please contact the Dean of Students.

Q: I participated in a great boundaries workshop event through my synod/congregation/denomination/institution. Does that count?

A: You may submit evidence of participation in such an event. Include as many details as possible – leader, number of hours, topics covered, perhaps a copy of the agenda, or a copy of a certificate of completion. The submission will be reviewed and placed in your file.

Q: Where do I send my materials?

A: Please direct all reports to:

Dean of Students
Luther Seminary
2481 Como Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55108

 Q: How do I submit a question to this page?

A: Email your questions to Judy Hedman at jhedman@luthersem.edu.