The most valuable asset that any licensed professional has is their license to practice in their chosen field, and of course teachers are no different in this regard. No matter how good you may be in your career, it makes no difference if you lose your license to practice. All professionals – doctors, accountants, dentists, nurses, etc. – of course are terrified by the prospect of losing their professional license due to some past transgression, but teachers especially face unique circumstances when it comes to past criminal conduct.
Colorado residents who have committed criminal acts may, under some circumstances, be able to seal their criminal records under Colorado law C.R.S. 24-72-702. The process is a long and complicated one, but it could be done. However, the process is more challenging for teachers, primarily because they are entrusted with the tremendous responsibility of working with kids. A lot of teachers believe that if they have committed a criminal offense in the past but then have it sealed, then no one will find out about it. That is not the case, and that is for two reasons.
One, under C.R.S. 24-72-702(1)(f)(III), the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) may require a licensed teacher or an applicant for a teaching license who files a petition to seal a criminal record to notify the CDE of a pending petition to seal. Two, Colorado criminal justice agencies – such as local police departments and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation – are still authorized under the law to access sealed records. Oddly enough, the CDE itself is considered to be a criminal justice agency, so it can access your records.
None of this is to say that you shouldn’t seal your records or that you’re not going to be able to hold on to a teaching license if you have a criminal record. However, you must approach the situation cautiously and meet with someone who can properly advise you.