Character & Fitness
Evidence of good moral character and personal fitness must be provided upon admission to the following educator certification programs:
- Residency Teacher
- Residency Educational Staff Associate / School Counselor
- Residency Principal (candidates who do not hold a valid Washington State certificate)
- Initial Superintendent (candidates who do not hold a valid Washington State certificate)
Character and fitness is established through two separate but related processes and maintained through certification: OSPI Fingerprint Clearance and Pre-Residency Clearance
If you already have fingerprint clearance, fill out the Pre-Residency Clearance Application. Follow these instructions carefully! ECert is not an intuitive system. You cannot start the process, save it, and come back to it later.
- Any reportable incidents must be fully disclosed and documentation provided as soon as possible. Documentation can be collected and uploaded after you've completed the Pre-Residency Clearance application.
- The Pre-Residency Clearance is valid for two years, however, if your answer to any question on this webform changes notify the Woodring Certification Office immediately.
Current Fingerprinting Options
On Campus fingerprinting is back! Woodring Certification Office in Miller Hall 256B provides digital fingerprints for $55.25 by appointment. This is the preferred option if you are in or near Bellingham.
Other fingerprinting option are below. If you can travel to one of the ESDs that is preferable. You won’t need to mail anything as the prints will be transmitted to OSPI electronically and they will be processed much more quickly by OSPI.
- Anacortes: ESD 189, schedule an appointment here: Northwest ESD fingerprinting; They may have more availability than is showing in the online scheduler. If you can't find an available time contact: 360-299-4043, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Renton: ESD 121, limited appointment available, Puget Sound ESD fingerprinting
- Olympia: ESD 113, by appointment, 360-464-6709 Capitol Region ESD fingerprinting
- Bremerton: ESD 114, by appointment, 360.478.6881 Olympic ESD fingerprinting
- Vancouver: ESD 112, by appointment, 360-952-3390 ESD 112 fingerprinting
If you go to another fingerprinting site (see below), they will provide you with a card and help you fill it out. The fingerprinting site will charge a separate fee to take your prints. Once you are printed, you will need to mail the card along with a check or money order for exactly $45.25 (made out to OSPI) to OSPI, Attention Fiscal Office, PO Box 47200, Olympia, WA 98504-7200. Do not fold the card.
- Lynden: Call the Lynden Police Department at 360-354-2828 for an appointment. Note: You will need to bring your own OSPI fingerprinting card. You can pick one up in Miller Hall 256B or request that one be mailed to you by calling 360-650-3388 or emailing email@example.com.
- Blaine: Tom Erickson, 360-961-2318 (call or text for an appointment)
- Bellevue/Bothell/Tacoma: Bellevue Fingerprinting Services , 425-603-1033, (Select "Employment/Credentialing Related Fingerprinting" and then "School Teachers/Employees/Contractors Fingerprints” when making the appointment. Under Reason Fingerprinted, select “School District Employees/Contractors/28A.400 RCW”.) If you are asked for an "ORI" number during the reservation process, use WA920310Z.
Fingerprinting Background Check: All candidates need Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) fingerprint clearance; Early Childhood Education candidates also need Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) fingerprint clearance. Candidates with a DCYF clearance can get it transferred to OSPI, see below.
Contact the Woodring Certification Office if you already have DCYF or OSPI clearance or if you have been fingerprinted for any reason in the last 1.5 years.
Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI): Get instructions and find locations at our fingerprinting page. The fingerprinting background check is valid for two years.
- or Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) - teacher candidates admitted to an Early Childhood Education endorsement program complete a background check through the DCYF, then submit the results to OSPI. View detailed instructions on the DCYF process.
Clearance by the OSPI Office of Professional Practices
Incidents reported through these two processes, if any, are investigated by the OSPI Office of Professional Practices. No student may participate in a University-sponsored activity in the public schools until cleared by the Washington State Patrol record check, and if applicable, investigated and cleared by OSPI. Clearance by OSPI is valid for two years and must be maintained until program completion and recommendation for certification.
Other Evidence of Character and Fitness
Students must abide by their program's conduct policies. Toward the end of a candidate’s program and prior to recommendation for the first certificate, the Dean of Woodring College of Education is required by Washington Administrative Code to sign an affidavit affirming that faculty and staff "have no knowledge related to the applicant’s character and fitness that would adversely affect the applicant’s ability to serve in a certificated role."