Becoming a Teacher with a California Criminal Record

Education is a key component of prison reform. A number of states, such as California, offer a means for incarcerated people to educate themselves. Some have been able to obtain a GED for those who have not graduated high school. Reading in prison is highly encouraged by faculty. Inside the system, books are made available, and outside the system, volunteer programs are organized to inform and educate those on the inside. In fact, children as young as those who attend middle school help in providing reading material to incarcerated persons who want to learn.

Consider the Following 

This exposure to a wealth of information raises an interesting question. Given the intellectual development made by those incarcerated, are they not fit to pass their knowledge onto younger generations? In other words, can felons become teachers?

The simpler answer to this question is based upon the nature of the crime committed. Violent crimes such as murder, rape, sex crimes with a minor, kidnapping, and others, immediately disqualify those convicted from serving as teachers. In California, those who are convicted of a crime identified by California’s Penal Code 667.5(c) are disqualified from teaching.

However, California does offer a path toward teaching for those felons not convicted of violent crimes. These felons must first  obtain a Certificate of Rehabilitation. Under California state law, those who are granted a Certificate of Rehabilitation cannot be denied a teaching position nor be terminated from a current teaching position. Other ways that convicts may become a teacher is by expungement or record sealing, depending relevant on state law.


In short, it’s possible to become a teacher after serving a prison term for those whose not convicted of the disabling offenses in the CA Penal Code. Obtaining a Certificate of Rehabilitation or an expungement for your California offenses are two options toward a better future. A California expungement does not actually destroy or seal the charge, but rather it sets aside or dismisses a California conviction. For more information on these legal options, it’s best to seek the advice of an experienced attorney. Try our newly updated eligibility test to see if you qualify today. 

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