The memo calls for principals to make sure any “unsupervised” volunteers are fingerprinted. The notice emphasized that the responsibility for screening volunteers rests squarely on the principals, and suggests that they “err on the side of requiring a volunteer to be fingerprinted.”
Some principals decided to have every volunteer (supervised or not) get the prints, even though that is not the district’s policy, said Renato Almanzor, director of the district’s new Family and Community Office. And, as of now, parent volunteers must be screened every year.
In many cases, parents are expected to shoulder the cost.
Since it can cost upwards of $70 dollars a year to comply, many worry the policy might discourage those with limited financial means from becoming — or staying — involved in the schools.
Almanzor said he shares that concern. He says the district does not subsidize screening costs, but that he is working with schools and parent groups to see “how we can exempt some of the parent volunteers from paying.”
He also says he’s working with other administrators to change the annual fingerprinting requirement.
Here is the memo from Kirsten Vital, chief of community accountability, to the principals:
As you encourage parents/guardians and other members of the community to share their time, knowledge and abilities with students, I wanted to offer some considerations that will ensure your success and allow the District to maintain its high standards of safety for students, employees and volunteers alike.
Your responsibility for who is on your site includes your recruiting, screening, placing, and supervising volunteers in an equitable process. We trust that you will ensure that any volunteers who work with students will be immediately and directly supervised by certificated personnel. These duties may include fieldtrips, lunch and/or breakfast periods or nonteaching support.
You are furthermore responsible for requiring fingerprinting or fingerprint clearance of volunteers whose responsibilities may result in their unsupervised work with students. We have included a list of sites that can provide fingerprinting services. If you are in doubt about whether a volunteer may end up being unsupervised around students, we urge you to err on the side of requiring the volunteer to be fingerprinted. This is in everyone’s best interest.
Finally, please maintain a log of individuals who volunteer in our schools. The logs should include the person’s name, date of service, and location of their volunteer duties (a specific classroom, office etc…). The District seeks to better track the broad range of volunteers and volunteering that exists at our sites. We must improve our tracking the volunteering trends in our schools and highlight these inspirational relationships between family/community and school.
Thank you for your cooperation.