Good idea or prohibitive?
NBC Montana takes a closer look at background checks for school volunteers | Local News - Home
NBC Montana takes a closer look at background checks for school volunteers
By Katherine Mozzone, KTVM Reporter, firstname.lastname@example.org
POSTED: 7:57 PM Apr 12 2013
BOZEMAN, Mont. - We told you earlier this week how a Belgrade parent was worried after a volunteer held his six-year-old daughter's hand and asked for hugs.
The school district looked into it, and says it was a case of miscommunication and that the volunteer did nothing wrong.
Yet, the parent tells us he's still concerned after learning Belgrade Schools doesn't check the criminal backgrounds of their volunteers.
We looked up Montana's law when it comes to background checks and found they are required for all school employees.
Background checks are not required for volunteers as long as they are under teachers' supervision.
Volunteers must undergo a background check, however, if they are going to be alone with children.
We called local schools in the area to find out their policy when it comes to background checks for volunteers and found that most districts- Gallatin Gateway, Manhattan and Bozeman Schools- only require background checks for those volunteers who are alone with children.
Folks with Ennis Schools tell me they require background checks for anyone working with kids.
Some parents tell me, that's how schools should operate.
"I think it should be mandatory, definitely. Anybody can come in and look like a good person but you don't know their past," says Bozeman mother of four Selah Barney.
Patti Blake is a grandmother. She says you can never be too careful these days and while she wouldn't insist on checks as much for parents of children attending the school, she does believe it should be required for all other volunteers.
"Even if it's somebody else's daddy or mommy, they don't always have the kids' best interest at heart and you just have to watch out. You don't know who lives next door to you," explains Blake.
Bozeman teacher Emmy Nadav tells us she'd like to think volunteers have the best intentions.
"Maybe it would be a good idea for background checks for volunteers. I mean, just to see what they're whole background is and to see what kind of intention they have for coming to the school," says Nadav.
But she says she doesn't think background checks are necessary for parent volunteers.
We also checked with other schools in the region and found that schools in Cody Wyoming fingerprint all of their employees and are now working to expand their policy to volunteers.
Volunteer coaches in Spokane must be fingerprinted but all other volunteers there go through a Washington state background check.
All Spokane volunteers are re-checked every two years.
They say the school district is also required to keep track of the number of volunteers and their hours and report that to the state.
All school volunteers in Portland, Oregon, must submit to a criminal background check.
In the Boulder Valley School District in Boulder, Colorado, occasional volunteers must be checked against the sex offender registry and folks who volunteer regularly have to submit to full background checks.
I think anyone who is around kids in a supervisory/work/assistant role, whether you're getting paid for it or not, should have a background check. Not being on payroll doesn't make you any less of a pedophile or child abuser or a person with a violent history, etc.
I ask, because I don't know if I'd be willing to let the school do a background check on me for the few days a year that I do volunteer.
It comes down to:
What does it include? Criminal check? Sex offender registry? Sure to both of those. Credit check? Probably not.
Who does the checking? Who pays for the checking?
When I applied to be a substitute a few years ago, it was $30 from me. I also had to have a TB test.
Sad to say, but I might not be a volunteer.
And what about kid's halloween parties or valentines parties. Usually a bunch of mommies volunteer to bring treats and balloons, etc?
I don't think a background check should be required for someone who is not alone with children. We have a close friend who has no children that likes to help out once in awhile in my step-daughters class because she has known her since she was a baby and took care of her a lot while her mother was sick. I don't think she should have to go through a background check to help out with a school party or help chaperone a field trip. They have a hard enough time getting volunteers to do those things they shouldn't make it more work.
Mom to Lee, Jake, Brandon, Rocco
Stepmom to Ryan, Regan, Braden, Baley
Granddaughters Kylie 10/18/2010 & Aleya 4/22/2013
I never consider a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosopy, as a cause for withdrawing from a friend. --Thomas Jefferson
Here, if you want to volunteer and there is a chance you will be alone with a child or children (reading in the hallway etc) then you need a criminal record check. If you are staying in the classroom with the teacher the whole time (for a party etc) then you dont need one. They are done by the RCMP, and you basically get a pass or a fail to work with children, and then you take that document to the school. The school is never told why you failed if you do. Im not sure how often they need to be redone, as I am an 'employed teacher' with the district so I didnt have to get another one done. As an aside, I only have to get one every 5 years as a teacher.
Mom to Arianna (5), Conner (3) and Trent (my baby)
At the school I teach at all volunteers have to have a background check, and they are required to pay for it. I think it is a bit overboard, if a mom is just coming in to take pictures at a valentines party or watch her kids during field day. But all of the parents at my school seem to appreciate the extra step to protect their kids.
Molly, Morgan, Mia and Carson
They do them for my kids schools every yr.
~ Sara -
~ DH - Jim -
~ Zachary - 4/19/95 ~ stillborn @ 33 wks
~ *J* - 16yr old
~ *M* 11yr old
As an aside, I had a background check done at my employer's expense when I accepted the job offer. I don't work with kids, or in law enforcement or the justice system. I didn't care - I have nothing to hide.
You have to here. As a volunteer working with children you must hold what is called a blue card which is a working with children check. If you are a volunteer it's free, if it's for paid employment it has a cost. It can be obtained by one agency then confirmed by any other agency you may work with.
Mom to Arianna (5), Conner (3) and Trent (my baby)