The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

May 10, 2014

Background checks eyed for volunteers

GROVE CITY — Federal background checks may be mandated every four years for volunteers at Grove City Area School District and would be paid for by the individual.

School director Roberta Hensel chaired an ad hoc committee that met on April 30 to discuss Policy 916, the findings of which she reported to school board members at their work session on Monday.

Director Faye Bailey was also part of the ad hoc committee, as well as school principals, members of the community and others.

Bailey had been pushing for regular federal background checks for volunteers for months during an upgrade of the district’s policies and procedure manual; however, no resolve had been made with 916 and others still pending, which had resulted in lengthy discussions during regular school board meetings.

The ad hoc committee came together in an effort to free up time at regular board sessions and bring a resolution to 916. The policies and procedures manual has been approved except for the few pending policies.

Hensel conveyed that volunteers will be broken up into Class A and Class B. The former will not need a background check, because he or she will volunteer under the supervision of a teacher for situations like school parties and assemblies. The Class B volunteer will require both an FBI clearance and TB test. He or she is more involved with school programs such as field trips and spending more private time with students.

The FBI check is currently about $28, and the TB test will be administered by the volunteer’s physician, Hensel said.

Bailey believed the school could pay for individuals who really wish to volunteer but couldn’t afford the background check and TB test fees.

Director Paul Gubba added that individuals who “spend hundreds of hours” volunteering for the district could also be given special consideration.

“We looked at that,” Hensel said, and the ad hoc committee believed the clearance and medical test were infrequent enough that volunteers could pay for it. “We’re basically asking for $7 a year,” she added.

School board members will vote to approve or reject the changes to Policy 916 during its regular meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, along with other pending policies regarding harassment of students and teachers.

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