DeKalb Schools administration is coming back again with another revision to the Visitor and Volunteer Policy. The first read was in March. This version has different implications.
I remain concerned about the implications of this policy. It might have the unintended consequence of making it cumbersome, or even, prohibitive for parents to volunteer at their child’s school.
There seem to be some inconsistencies too. For example: Level 1 volunteers are supervised and might perform activities like grounds maintenance or repairs. The new policy requires background checks for Level 1 volunteers. Let’s say a parent attends their daughter’s volleyball game – no background check required. But, if they stay after the game and help clean up the gym, suddenly they are a Level 1 volunteer that needs a background check?
Mom’s bringing and setting up a team meal before a game – they need a background check? We all want to keep children safe but does this policy accomplish that or does it just create more problems?
Let me know your thoughts about the new policy proposed by the administration or join the conversation on Facebook.
Amendment to the Bylaws and Policies: Board Policy IFCD, Visitor and Volunteer Policy
PROPOSED ADMINISTRATIVE REGULATION Descriptor Code: IFCD-R
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.
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 three levels of volunteers:
Level 1 volunteers are non-district personnel who engage in supervised volunteer activity
but will have no interaction with students, such as volunteers working on playground construction, assisting with facilities maintenance when school is not in session. Level 1 volunteers do not require criminal background checks. Prior to service, Level 1 volunteers will be required to sign a Volunteer Application and Release Form, which will be kept on file at the school. Registered sex offenders will not be allowed to volunteer.
Level 2 volunteers are non-district personnel who will have supervised interaction with students such as school day field trip, chaperones or assisting a teacher. Prior to service, Level 2 1 volunteers are required to submit a Volunteer Application and Release Form and Criminal History Release Form, and GBI criminal background check. Registered sex offenders will not be allowed to volunteer complete a Level 1 background check. The check will include but is not limited to a national criminal data base search and sex offender’s registries.
3 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 3 2 volunteers include chaperones on overnight field trips or any other volunteers who will have unsupervised interaction with students. Level 3 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.
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.
FOLLOW UP – Q&A
Linda Frazer and Marissa Key are the authors of this policy. This is the Q&A between us
Question: Level 1 Background Check isn’t defined. Nor are the costs associated with obtaining the background check.
Answer from Linda and Marrissa: Since March 2019, the district researched the needs and engaged in the RFP process to identify a vendor to support this proposed volunteer policy and supporting regulation. The selected vendor will be brought forward for approval at the December 9th BOE meeting. The selected vendor will provide Level 1 background checks using the national criminal database and sex offender’s registries. There is a cost associated with the Level 1 background check, but the district has set aside funds to defray the cost.
Question: If I’m reading this right, Level 1 volunteers like “assisting with facilities maintenance” will require a background check. That seems like a prohibitive barrier for many volunteers which are in dire need at our schools. That is to say, anybody can show up for a volleyball game. But, if they pick up a broom and start sweeping the floor, they’ll need a background check.
Answer from Linda and Marrissa: There are two types of volunteers, supervised and unsupervised. Level 1 volunteers are non-district personnel who engage in supervised volunteer activity. These volunteers will complete a Level 1 background check. Level 2 volunteers participate in activities involving direct, unsupervised interaction with students. Level 2 volunteers will 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. We value all people who want to help and support our DCSD schools. The safety of students and staff members remains our top priority.