Salisbury Press

Wednesday, February 20, 2019


Tuesday, July 31, 2018 by Debbie Galbraith in Local News

Volunteers welcome; some requirements apply

For residents new to the school district and/or for those who wish to volunteer, there are recent requirements for volunteering in the school buildings.

Board Policy 6A.1 states the district, “recognizes that the talent, skills and experience of community members help enrich student educational and non-curricular activities.”

The policy, updated in August 2016, details the steps necessary for volunteers to work with children in the district.

•No person may volunteer in the district without prior notification, express permission by the superintendent or designee and/or provision of all necessary documentation regarding legally required clearances. Coordination of all volunteer activity shall be performed by the building principal/administrator, who shall be responsible for coordinating details regarding individual events, communicating directly with volunteers and coordinating volunteer schedules.

•Volunteers must schedule all volunteer service through the building principal/administrator. Unless expressly permitted through an open invitation directly extended in writing to a volunteer or group of volunteers, volunteers will not be permitted to participate in school functions as a volunteer without prior authorization by the building principal/administrator.

•Volunteers who, in their role as volunteer, are responsible for a child’s welfare or have “direct volunteer contact” with children are required to be “certified volunteers.” In order to be a “certified volunteer,” an individual must provide all three of the background checks and the affidavit described below to the building principal. The building principal shall maintain a list of all certified volunteers and shall also provide a copy of the list to the superintendent.

Certified volunteers are required to produce the following clearances/background checks:

(1) PA State Police Criminal History Report – Pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S. Ch. 91 (relating to criminal history record information), a report of criminal history record information from the Pennsylvania State Police or a statement from the Pennsylvania State Police that the state police central repository contains no such information relating to that person. The criminal history record information shall be limited to that which is disseminated pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S. § 9121(b)(2) (relating to general regulations).

(2) Department of Human Services Child Abuse Certification – A certification from the Department of Human Services as to whether the applicant is named in the statewide database as the alleged perpetrator in a pending child abuse investigation or as the perpetrator of a founded report or an indicated report.

(3) FBI Criminal History – Submission of a full set of fingerprints to the PA State Police for the purpose of a record check and the PA State Police or its authorized agent shall submit the fingerprints to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for the purpose of verifying the identity of the applicant and obtaining a current record of any criminal arrests and convictions.

Prospective volunteers shall be responsible for any and all fees incurred in obtaining the necessary clearances, regardless of whether the prospective volunteer is ultimately approved to serve in the district.

Clearances/background checks for certified volunteers may not be older than 60 months and volunteers who are required to be “certified volunteers,” under this policy, shall be required to provide updated clearances within 60 months of the date of the volunteer’s oldest clearance.

In addition to the background check/clearance process, all volunteers who are required to be “certified volunteers,” as per this policy, shall be required to affirm, in writing, that they are not disqualified from service under 23 P.S. 6344(c). Non-disclosure of relevant criminal history or falsification of any information contained within the affidavit shall constitute grounds for immediate termination of the individual’s right to serve as a volunteer within the school and the district retains the right to take legal action against such individual and/or report such falsification to the police.

Approved volunteers are responsible for reporting if they have been arrested or convicted for offenses that would prohibit the person from serving as a volunteer. The individual will provide written notice to the district within 72 hours of such event. Failure to accurately report such arrests, convictions or naming within 72 hours may subject the individual to criminal prosecution.

The names of all volunteers will be submitted by the principal to the superintendent’s office for approval. No volunteer can begin a volunteer position until approved by the superintendent’s office. The school board, superintendent or designee, or building principal may terminate the services of a volunteer at any time in his, her or their sole discretion, with or without cause.

Every volunteer should familiarize himself/herself with the district’s child abuse policy. A volunteer is required to report pursuant to Policy No. 806 if the volunteer has reason to suspect a child is a victim of child abuse.

A volunteer and/or certified volunteer, depending upon the circumstance, may work with students by assisting in classroom activities, curriculum-related activities and extracurricular activities during the school day and after regular school hours with duties or activities as determined by the school employee who approves the start of volunteer services.

The role of a volunteer is to assist. Volunteers may not assume instruction responsibilities of school employees but will work under the direction of school employees, providing help in supportive or enriching activities. Volunteers will not administer tests to students.

Except in an emergency situation, volunteers will not be involved in student discipline or administration of first aid.

Except as authorized in advance by the appropriate administrator, and in compliance with district policies for vehicle use, volunteers are not permitted to operate a motor vehicle owned by or under the control of the district or to transport a student to or from a school sponsored activity in a privately owned motor vehicle other than a student to whom the volunteer is the student’s parent, stepparent, foster parent, legal guardian, or close family relative (sibling, grandparent, aunt or uncle).

Volunteers shall follow all applicable administrative procedures established pursuant to this policy and all other rules, regulations, procedures and administrative guidelines concerning conduct of the district professional and paraprofessional staff. Such rules, regulations and procedures and guidelines, however, shall not be deemed to expand the responsibility or authority of volunteers as set forth in this policy.

Each volunteer, whether certified or not, shall keep strictly confidential all information the volunteer may learn about students during the course of performing volunteer services and shall follow all requirements of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act.

No volunteer shall be permitted to access, review, disclose or use confidential student information or participate in conversations in which confidential student information is discussed, unless knowledge of that student information is necessary for the volunteer to fulfill his or her responsibilities. Examples of such information include but are not limited to: grades or other measures of academic performance, class standing, standardized or other test scores, attendance records, discipline history, individualized education plans, health data, family background information, teacher or counselor ratings and observations and any other verified or unverified information contained in a student’s file maintained by school employees or the district. If a volunteer has questions about the confidentiality of student information, the volunteer should consult with the building principal.

A volunteer is not an employee or independent contractor of the district and shall not receive any compensation for services. Each principal or designee has general authority over and responsibility for volunteers performing services at such schools.

The athletic director and the principal have general authority over and responsibility for volunteer sport coaches.

Professional staff in each building who use volunteers in any capacity shall be responsible for orienting the volunteers to perform the specific duties associated with their assignments.