The dynamics of student-teacher relationships can be complex, especially when the students are over 18. At this stage, students are legally adults and may possess a greater sense of independence and self-awareness. However, the inherent power imbalance in the student-teacher relationship remains significant. Teachers hold the authority to evaluate and influence students’ academic progress, which should cause them to create and uphold boundaries and ethical considerations.

One ClearanceJobsBlog subscriber writes:

I was hoping someone could help me out here. I want to apply to Border Patrol but feel I would be denied suitability based on a professional misconduct claim from my previous employer.

A quick run down of the incident: The student was 18 at the time and I was under the influence. I was with a few friends and the student talked to me about some familial difficulties they were facing at the time. I invited the student to go out to a club where they would permit 18 year olds. They declined. I immediately told the student the next day at school I would refrain from communicating with them again and apologized for the invitation (albeit a solely friendly invitation). They said I didn’t have to but I still did. However, this student has always had truancy issues throughout their high school career and unfortunately I was an easy scapegoat to pin the blame on three to four weeks after the incident happened. The school conducted a title 9 investigation and found it inconclusive. I was on administrative leave with pay the entire time. My superiors said they would say it was out of character if they were ever questioned by HR (I didn’t ask them for this but knew I did a lot for the school and community as I was heavily involved). In addition, the investigation was partially found inconclusive because the student made remarks such as I was respectful and never suggested anything sexual and they refused to cooperate in the investigation as they didn’t want anything to happen to me. All of this was document by the district attorney and Human Resources personnel. We did reach a settlement agreement where any inquiry of my employment would only permit them to give information about my compensation, length of employment, and positions held. Prior to this incident I taught for 4 years and never had any disciplinary issues such as this one. However, all it took was one night of too much drinking and a series of bad choices to cause me to be here.

Personal background: I have a masters degree, my current employers all know me as an outstanding and respectful individual (if they were to have found out what happened they would know it’s out of character and unexpected as did everyone else who knew me and of the incident). Aside from the incident, my close supervisors and coworkers did not expect that from me and even have said verbatim it’s out of character and not like him. I have a decent credit score, I borrowed out a mortgage for my mom and she went a little under or for two months without paying it (she didn’t realize the money wasn’t being deducted due to procedures from the mortgage company-she had insufficient funds twice and as a result removed the autopay functionality). As soon as we found out we instantly paid it. I have nothing in collections. I am paying all of loans on time. I have no criminal background nor tickets given to me in the past 7 years. I did have drug use twice (once in 2022 and other times in my youth as a middle schooler). I haven’t since.


When I was recruiting for any Department of Homeland Security (DHS) contract, my first question wasn’t “what level of clearance do you have” or “is it active”?


This is because DHS and its components are notoriously difficult. As one background investigator on this thread notes, some people can pass a three letter agency polygraph and immediately fail a DHS suitability determination. The DHS personnel security office ensures that federal employees or contractors meet admissible standards of conduct and that employing someone won’t negatively affect the trustworthiness or competence of the agency. When this process is applied to contractors, it’s called a fitness determination, and DHS takes it very seriously.

While it could be worth a try to apply, personal misconduct issues (especially as an educator with minors) will come up in an investigation. Passage of time will be the most significant factor. And because alcohol was involved, a mitigating factor would be to note that you no longer get inebriated to the point that your character and trustworthiness are questioned.

Institutions have clear policies to prevent conflicts of interest and ensure that student-teacher relationships remain within professional boundaries. Both students and teachers should be aware of these guidelines and commit to upholding them, fostering a respectful and effective educational experience.


Much about the clearance process resembles the Pirate’s Code: “more what you’d call guidelines than actual rules.” This case-by-case system is meant to consider the whole person, increase process security, and allow the lowest-risk/highest-need candidates to complete the process. However, it also creates a  lot of questions for applicants. For this reason, ClearanceJobs maintains – a forum where clearance seekers can ask the cleared community for advice on their specific security concerns. Ask CJ explores questions posed  on the ClearanceJobs Blog forum, emails received, and comments from this site.

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Katie Helbling is a marketing fanatic that enjoys anything digital, communications, promotions & events. She has 10+ years in the DoD supporting multiple contractors with recruitment strategy, staffing augmentation, marketing, & communications. Favorite type of beer: IPA. Fave hike: the Grouse Grind, Vancouver, BC. Fave social platform: ClearanceJobs! 🇺🇸