School board approves volunteer policy

At the regular meeting on April 25, the Avon Grove School District Board of School Directors approved revisions to Board Policy No. 916 which includes new terminology for the types of school volunteers, descriptions and examples for each, as well as they types of clearances required and which volunteers need tuberculosis testing, according to a press release.

In addition, the school district is scheduled to sponsor mobile fingerprinting sessions on August 29 and September 24 as a convenience for volunteer candidates who need FBI clearances.

The two main categories for volunteers outlined in the revised policy are Limited Contact Volunteers and Substantial Contact Volunteers. The former includes volunteers who work directly under the supervision and direction of a teacher or administrator. The latter includes volunteers who may have unsupervised contact with students.

Under the revised policy, Limited Contact Volunteers for a single event are not required to obtain clearances. Those who volunteer for recurring events, however, must obtain clearances, including an original criminal history report from the Pennsylvania State Police, an original child abuse history clearance from the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare, and an original federal criminal history report.

Substantial Contact Volunteers must provide the same three clearances in order to be approved by school administration to work with students. In addition, any volunteer who wishes to participate in overnight field trips must submit all three clearances.

The policy is effective with the first student day of the school year, beginning with the 2013-2014 school term. Volunteers who already obtained required clearances/tuberculosis test results for their classification and who volunteered during the 2012-2013 school year are not required to obtain updated clearances at the start of the 2013-2014 term. Volunteers who have a break in service and do not volunteer for an entire school year must renew and resubmit clearances if they wish to volunteer again.

Building principals are required to approve volunteers prior to serving, and must maintain a list of the names and services provided in his/her respective building.

The revised policy does provide for exceptions to be made on a case-by-case basis for volunteers who do not fit into the criteria defined. The building administrator, in conjunction with the superintendent, have authority to grant such exceptions; however, the policy notes that any volunteer not required to provide clearances must remain under the direct supervision and in the immediate vicinity of a permanent district employee at all times and will not be permitted to work alone with children.

In addition, any volunteer who serves more than 10 hours per week/per event with the same students on or off campus must undergo a tuberculosis examination.

Costs of tuberculosis testing must be paid by the volunteer candidate unless a financial hardship can be established.

The school district is scheduled to sponsor two fingerprinting sessions in August and September as a convenience for volunteer candidates. Fingerprinting is required as part of the federal clearance. The fee for the sessions conducted by the Chester County Intermediate Unit, which total $500, will be covered by the school district; however, volunteer candidates must pay for processing their individual clearances.

The mobile fingerprinting sessions are scheduled August 29 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Avon Grove High School cafeteria and September 24 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Avon Grove Intermediate School cafeteria. Preregistration is required; however, fingerprinting registrations are only valid for 90 days so registration will not open until after July 1, 2013, for the sessions sponsored by the school district. Instructions will be provided at a later date.

For volunteer candidates who need clearances sooner or who cannot make one of the sessions hosted by the school district, fingerprinting is provided through the Chester County Intermediate Unit Teacher Center on an ongoing basis. Applicants must register with Cogent Systems prior to visiting the Teacher Center to be fingerprinted. Please see the Chester County Intermediate Unit’s Web site at www.cciu.org and click “Fingerprinting” under “Site Shortcuts” for hours of operation, fee information and additional details.

For a complete copy of Avon Grove School District’s Board Policy No. 916, please see the district’s Web site at www.avongrove.org under Board of Education and Policies, or view the policy attached to the Board calendar event for April 25, 2013.

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