DeKalb Schools Volunteer Policy

DeKalb Schools is asking that the Board of Education approve the new School Volunteers policy. Furthermore, the district is asking the Board of Education to approve $196,000 annually to run and maintain a Volunteer Management System. The $196,000 covers Level 1 background checks for 15,000 volunteers.

Last month Gevertz noted that undocumented people will not be able to volunteer. However, in accordance with the Visitor Policy, visitors must only “state their name and business” to receive access to the students.

I asked the district to get feedback from the PACs on this latest version. I also asked the district to define “Level 1 Background Check” and define requirements around what a passing or failing background check is. None of this seems to have been done, so I’ll see if I can get this policy deferred another month.

In the mean time, please let me know your thoughts. Also, you can give the administration feedback directly here.

PROPOSED VOLUNTEER POLICY
DeKalb Schools Policy

DOCS AND LINKS
October 2, 2019 – New Visitor and Volunteer Policy
March 7, 2019 – New Visitor and Volunteer Policy
  Proposed Visitor Policy
Facebook Conversation

VOLUNTEERS
Volunteers are a valued part of the DeKalb County School District and contribute to overall student academic achievement, school climate and culture. The following regulation defines volunteer, outlines volunteer levels, and provides volunteer expectations to promote student safety.

Definitions

Volunteers are non-paid persons authorized to perform volunteer services at approved school or district-sponsored activities. All volunteers must complete the volunteer registration process which includes submission of the Volunteer Application and Release Form. Volunteers who will come into direct contact with students who are not their own must also complete mandated reporter training per O.C.G.A. § 19-7-5 prior to participating in any volunteer activities. The school must maintain documentation that the volunteer has completed the Volunteer Application and Release Form, mandated reporter training and any other required training. The documents will be maintained at the school for the current academic year.

Volunteers will be issued volunteer badges, which must be displayed at all times while on school property. School volunteers must sign-in and out in the school office and obtain a visitor badge in accordance with policy KM Visitors to School and school procedures.

The District recognizes the following two levels of volunteers:

Level 1
Level 1 volunteers are non-district personnel who engage in supervised volunteer activity, such as volunteers working on playground construction, assisting with facilities maintenance, chaperone school day field trip, or assisting a teacher. Prior to service, Level 1 volunteers are required to submit a Volunteer Application and Release Form and complete a Level 1 background check. The check will include but is not limited to, a national criminal database search and sex offender’s registries.

Level 2
Level 2 volunteers must be approved by the Department of Public Safety and the principal of the school prior to participating in activities involving direct, unsupervised interaction with students. Examples of Level 2 volunteers include chaperones on overnight field trips or any other volunteers who will have unsupervised interaction with students. Level 2 volunteers shall be fingerprinted by the district and have GBI/FBI criminal background checks on file prior to volunteer services. This background check requires a fee and must be conducted by the Department of Public Safety. Registered sex offenders will not be allowed to volunteer.

Exceptions
This policy does not apply to individuals who are working pursuant to a vendor contract with the district to provide services. Such individuals must follow the terms of their company’s vendor agreement with the district.

Expectations of Volunteers
Volunteers must adhere to the same guidelines set forth for employees and should not engage in inappropriate communication and/or contact with students at any time.

In accordance with OCGA 19-7-5(c) (1), volunteers are considered mandated reporters in cases of suspected abuse. Reports of suspected abuse should be made to the school administrator or their designee.

Disqualification of Volunteers
Parents/guardians who are excluded from volunteer activities may attend public events at the school such as Parent Teacher Association meetings and student activities directly related to their student. See Board Policy KM: Visitors to Schools.

Access to Student Information
School volunteers shall not have access to student information, including Infinite Campus, without express written consent from the parents/legal guardians of the students.

13 responses to “DeKalb Schools Volunteer Policy

  1. Stan I know that some DeKalb Public School use volunteers in the attendance office. While probably not the best practice, this policy would prevent that from occurring. Also it seems like this policy will really serve as an impediment to teachers getting help on field trips, classroom parties etc as those aren’t often planned in advance such that someone can obtain a background check. If it’s just a matter of checking the sex offender registry that’s a 5 second search and shouldn’t cost anything.

  2. D, I believe that Level 1 background checks will not require fingerprints and will probably be a 5 second search on this new system we are going to pay $200K a year for.

  3. Stan,

    For the Criminal Background check is $200K a flat cost for all checks or 15,000 checks at approximately $13 per check? When I sold database criminal checks we charged about $5 per check.

    Had DCSD defined what type of a “hit” will disqualify someone from volunteering?

    What is the appeals process for someone who is disqualified and who will administer it? If doing the type of background check I think is being proposed it is a match on Name and Data of Birth. This will generate false positives for those with a common name.

  4. $121,600 – Volunteer Management System
    $75,000 – screening for 15,000 volunteers

    They haven’t define who passes and who fails. Appeals process … good question … no idea.

  5. Is the $121,600 a one-time cost or annual on-going expense?

    The three big issues with database searches are false positives, bad data and old data. False positives happen when the person being checked shares a name and date of birth with a criminal. Bad data happens when something is in the database that shouldn’t be there. For example charged offenses and not actual convictions. It is almost impossible to get bad data removed from one’s record. It just keeps coming back, kind of like a bad item on a credit report.

    The final item is old data. How far in the past is DCSD going to hold people accountable for? I’ve seen database searches with convictions from the 1980s. Is DCSD going to deny someone who had a conviction 30 years ago but has been trouble free since?

  6. This is what I know about the Volunteer Management System – Agenda Item – https://simbli.eboardsolutions.com/SB_Meetings/ViewMeeting.aspx?S=4054&MID=75272&IID=1754176

    I don’t have any details about what constitutes a failed/passed background check.

  7. @Stan.. So, volunteers get their screening paid for, but employees still have to pay… That just seems wrong on so many levels.

  8. Bad idea. Parent involvement is the number 1 common characteristic of successful schools. You are asking the least able and most enthusiastic parents to do the impossible. The inconvenience to them is not something their schedules and access to transportation allow. However, they love to stop by for 30 minutes or an hour to help in a classroom.

  9. If I had to jump through these hoops I would not have shown up to volunteer for that 15 years I put in with my kids, and the 9 years I put in when my kid was old enough to be teaching herself and needed field trip chaperones.

    Nope. Moms should not have to go through this crap! Nothing like running off your main workers. Non-parents perhaps should go through this. I find it totally insulting and I’ll find another place to offer my talents. 15 years of being a room mom… SMH

  10. Thanks for the link Stan. Oddly, under rationale, their entire rationale mentions nothing about protecting students from “criminals/sex offenders”. It is all about tracking volunteers and matching volunteers. I’m confused about “matching” volunteers. They volunteer at their schools for what jobs they want to help with – where does “matching” come in? Who at each school is going to be assigned to deal with coordinating these “matches”? Are all volunteer needs at each school (every club, sport, event) now going to be sent to a point person in each school to “manage”? How will they be tracked – will every volunteer sign in some where – how will that be possible if they are volunteering at an off site event like an athletic event or after the school office has closed? How will a booster club officer know if people that sign up to help have been “cleared”? So many moving parts – it is not realistic to believe that this can be implemented in any meaningful way.

    Will a new position be created in the central office to manage the system and the volunteer matching? Will this add to the workload of principals? The questions go on and on about how this will be implemented.

    Totally agree with Amy and Cathy. People are not going to AIC to get a background check done, esp not those in schools who already have a hard time getting volunteers in the door.

    If Level 1 volunteers have no unsupervised contact, why do they need a background check? How will DCSD handle student volunteers that must get in hours for NHS, Beta club, etc? Do they expect students to go to AIC and have a background check? Do you think parents will want DCSD doing a background check on their student?

    Here’s the stated rationale for this yearly expense:
    This contract will provide DCSD with an efficient tool to manage the volunteer process from start to finish at the schools and centers. The Volunteer Management System shall have a search/query feature to better match volunteers to opportunities at the school and district level. The Volunteer Management System shall create a web analytics reporting feature designed to quantify, sort, and summarize all available data on visitors and their searches, meeting specific criteria. All searches must be recorded for tracking and reporting purposes.

  11. Interesting … this agenda item has been pulled from Monday’s meeting along with the E-SPLOST and GO bond approval. Here is the list of agenda items pulled from Monday’s meeting …

    • 7a. RFP 20-520 DCSD Volunteer Management System Award Approval (Dr. Linda Frazer)

    • 9. 3. Iii. ESPLOST V Project: GPS Technology Solution System Approval (Dan Drake)

    • 9.3. iv. PLACEHOLDER: Approval of ESPLOST V Project Budget and Scope (Dan Drake)

    • 9.3. v. PLACEHOLDER: Resolution to Call a Referendum GO Bonds (Dan Drake)

    • G1. FIRST READ – Amendment to the Bylaws & Polices: Board Policy KM, Visitors to School (Marissa Key)

    • G2. READY FOR ACTION – Amendment to the Bylaws and Policies, Board Policy IFCD, School Volunteers (Dr. Linda Frazer)

  12. Interesting indeed!
    Excellent news… we need leadership, a vision, a clean audit, a real strategic plan and a master plan for facilities in place before the DCSD asks taxpayers for any more money via a GO Bond or a SPLOST renewal.
    Wipe the slate clean!

  13. Hooray for Mrs. Tyson! I’m so glad those Agenda items were pulled from the December BOE meeting.

    To me, this shows that either Mrs. Tyson isn’t satisfied with what her staff is proposing, or she is responsive to stakeholder concerns with what the staff is proposing, or both.

    None of these Agenda items were ready for prime time.

    Maybe the delay will have some negative impacts, but those impacts can’t compare with the possibility that the BOE might have approved the foolish proposals for E-SPLOST, GO Bonds, and volunteer program changes.

    Let’s get it right, even if it takes a bit longer. Isn’t this what we teach our children?

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