CriminalBackgroundRecords.com States: Volunteer Background Checks Must be Vigorous and Thorough, as Well as Flexible to Attract Parent Volunteers

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CriminalBackgroundRecords.com states: With the return of hundreds of thousands of students to campuses across the country, all volunteer’s with access to students must be background checked, but the policies of the screening process must be flexible enough to encourage parents to participate. Adam Almeida, CEO and President of CriminalBackgroundRecords.com states: “Background checks on volunteers are critical to protect students returning to school and a critical part of risk mitigation policies.”

Criminal Background Records

Criminal Background Records

Ultimately school districts need to provide a consistent, well-written policy of risk mitigation that will both protect the children and allow a degree of flexibility for parents to participate.

With the return of hundreds of thousands of students to campuses across the country, it is at this junction that school districts must remain diligent with background screening of volunteers. Risk mitigation is a key reason for background screening, and as students head back to school, now more than ever, is the time to mitigate risk as they interact with volunteers. But policies that involve volunteer screening must comply with all local, state, and federal law while affording a degree of flexibility to parent volunteers.

From http://www.Post-Gazette.com (Sept. 4, 2014):
Requiring criminal and child abuse clearances was recommended as part of the district’s security initiative, but the proposed policy drew fire from representatives of parent-teacher groups who have a hard time getting enough volunteers for events in the schools. (1)

Volunteer screening becomes moot if one cannot assemble enough volunteers to provide assistance. And parents, while often the ideal candidate to be a volunteer, often harbor fears in regards to a review of public records via a criminal background check.

In some places in the country background screening policies are proving to be a little demanding. While acknowledging the need for screening, some policies place high demands on the parents.

From http://www.TampaBay.com (Aug. 29, 2014):
…the Pinellas County School District's policy that bans parents with minor or years-old criminal convictions from volunteering at schools is too strict and drives away too many families who want to be more involved in their children's education. (2)

The use of criminal histories is under strict scrutiny by the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission. The EEOC has provided guidance to the fair and lawful use of such documents. Organizations utilizing criminal background records as part of volunteer vetting should follow similar protocols set in place by the EEOC.

Adam Almeida, President and CEO of CriminalBackgroundRecords.com states: “Creating a policy that protects and prevents potential risk to students is critical, and it should be developed with the same standards one might use to hire paid employees. A third-party background screening company can greatly assist in the development of such programs.”

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, the issue of consistency in background screening standards has continued to be part of a public debate.

From http://www.TulsaWorld.com (Sept. 6, 2014):
There is also no definition of what crimes ban parents from schools and no information explaining what is deemed unfit for volunteerism. Tulsa Public School spokesman Chris Payne said principals are told to look for anything that could harm a child. Discretion can be good for flexibility. It also means inconsistency. (3)

Ultimately school districts need to provide a consistent, well-written policy of risk mitigation that will both protect the children and allow a degree of flexibility for parents to participate.

Almeida states: “A third-party background screening company can greatly assist any school district, public or private, with the background screening programs needed to protect at-risk populations. The use of public records is a central, critical tool required to provide the information necessary to make a sound decision, but the standard of use must remain compliant with all laws and regulations.”

As students return to school, now is the time to conduct systematic, inclusive background checks on all individuals working with children, both in the classroom and after school, but these programs should allow a degree of flexibility to work with parent needs while remaining compliant within the law.

CriminalBackgroundRecords.com is a third-party background screening company working with companies and organizations, large and small, in creating risk mitigation policies and providing public record access utilized in the vetting process. Whether a client is a volunteer or paid employee, CriminalBackgroundRecords.com can provide the support demanded during background screening.

Notes:
(1)    post-gazette.com/local/north/2014/09/04/North-Allegheny-revamping-proposed-policy-on-background-checks-for-school-volunteers/stories/201409040018
(2)    tampabay.com/opinion/editorials/editorial-schools-rules-on-volunteers-need-flexibility/2195347
(3)    tulsaworld.com/news/ginniegraham/tps-volunteer-forms-scaring-away-parents-with-less-than-perfect/article_1bda5c95-0adb-5c71-8bcc-dcac8bc61d54.html

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