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Terms and Definitions – Background Check

DPI is currently receiving a high volume of contacts for assistance.  The three most commonly asked questions and their answers are below:

Help with WAMS IDs

Before you can submit an application to DPI, you must register for a Web Access Management Systems (WAMS) user ID.

How to set up a WAMS account

Already have one or more WAMS accounts?

How to start your WAMS account recovery:

Perform a WAMS account recovery for all emails you have. Enter your email address but do NOT enter your User ID to start your WAMS account recovery. Once in the account recovery process you will be prompted to change your password. After you change your password you will be told in parentheses what your correct User ID is. Please make note of that before you terminate the account recovery session. Once you have recovered all WAMS accounts you have, login to ELO with each of your accounts individually. If you can see your licenses, you are logging in with the correct WAMS account. If you are taken through the Onboarding process again, you are not using the correct WAMS account and should try another account.

If you encounter errors in the WAMS account recovery process, please contact WAMS directly.  DPI is unable to help with WAMS recovery because the system is used by many state agencies and is run by the Department of Administration:

Revalidating Life or Lifetime License

Educators, whose Life or Lifetime license was invalidated in July, have until December 31 to revalidate their license. Upon approval of the $45 Request Background Check - Lifetime Licensee [5900] application, the Lifetime license will be revalidated just as if the educator completed the application before June 30. Educators will have until December 31 to complete this application for their license to be revalidated.

Background Checks

DPI is required by law to conduct a background check on each applicant for a Wisconsin educator license regardless of whether it is an initial request or a renewal request.

All educators are required to complete a background check to maintain or revalidate a life or lifetime license. There are directions for how to complete the $45 Request Background Check - Lifetime Licensee [5900].

To find the year in which your most recent background check was submitted, search License Lookup using your name or entity number and check see the “Last Background Check Submitted” field.

  • Applicant: Any person who applies for a license, permit or other certificate from the department.
  • Arrest: A person has been taken into custody and detained by law enforcement.
  • Background Review: A status of Background Review occurs when information is revealed during the background check process that may constitute immoral conduct or incompetency and which requires further investigation and review.
  • CCAP: Consolidated Court Automation Program. This website, also called the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access (WCCA), provides access to certain public records of the circuit courts of Wisconsin. The information displayed is an exact copy of the case information entered into the CCAP case management system by court staff in the counties where the case files are located. The court record summaries are all public records under the Wisconsin open records laws. However, not all Wisconsin counties provide information to CCAP.
  • Charge: A criminal charge is an official accusation or allegation that a person engaged in a certain criminal act.
  • CIB: "Crime Information Bureau." Within the Wisconsin Department of Justice, the CIB functions as a central repository for criminal arrest and conviction records within Wisconsin. Only incidents that were submitted to the CIB accompanied by fingerprints are contained in the database.
  • Conviction: A criminal conviction is a finding of fact by a court that a person committed a criminal act.
  • Criminal Complaint and Information: Official court documents outlining and explaining the crimes of which a defendant has been accused.
  • Denied: A status which occurs when an application for licensure is denied - Wis. Admin Code PI 34.103.  
  • Deferred Prosecution: An agreement entered into by a defendant, the prosecutor and the judge. The agreement usually lists conditions that a defendant must fulfill within a set amount of time. If the defendant completes the agreement successfully, the judge agrees to dismiss charges against the defendant, or to reduce them to a non-criminal forfeiture.
  • Dismissed: Charges are dropped, and the case is not pursued.
  • Disposition: The outcome of a case.
  • DOJ: (Wisconsin) Department of Justice.
  • Expunged: The contents of the court record are purged. This often happens as part of an agreement when a person is sentenced - if the person completes certain conditions, the court agrees to “expunge” the records of the case. Note: Only the court records are expunged. Law enforcement records remain available.
  • Felony: A felony is a crime for which the penalty is more than one year in jail.
  • Immoral Conduct: Conduct that is contrary to commonly accepted moral or ethical standards and which endangers the health, welfare, safety or education of any pupil Wis. Stat. 115.31(1)(c). Immoral Conduct also includes all of the following:
    • The intentional use of an educational agency's equipment to download, view, solicit, seek, display, or distribute pornographic material.
    • Assisting a school employee, contractor, or agent to obtain a new job in a school or with a local educational agency, as defined in 20 USC 7801 (30), if the individual knows or has a reasonable suspicion to believe that the school employee, contractor, or agent committed a sex offense, as defined in s. 301.45 (1d) (b), and the victim was a minor or a pupil.
  • Incompetency: A pattern of inadequate performance of duties or the lack of ability, legal qualifications or fitness to discharge required duties, and which endangers the health, welfare, safety or education of any pupil – Wis. Admin Code PI 34.097.
  • Licensee: A person holding a license or having the right to renew a license.
  • Misdemeanor: A misdemeanor is a crime for which the maximum penalty is not more than one year in jail.
  • No Probable Cause (NPC): A misconduct investigation has taken place and was closed with the finding that, based on the available information, there is no probable cause to pursue revocation of the person’s Wisconsin educator license(s).
  • Ordinance Violation/Forfeiture/Non-criminal: non-criminal violation of the law, usually a county or city ordinance. The disposition of these charges typically involves a fine or forfeiture.
  • Reinstatement: Restoring the rights, privileges and authority previously revoked.
  • Sentence: A consequence imposed by a judge after a person has been found guilty of committing a crime.
  • State Superintendent: The Wisconsin State Superintendent of Public Instruction is an elected official.