Monday, December 21, 2009


Criminal Background Check Policy Changed for School Volunteers

One St. Louis area school district is changing its criminal background check policy for volunteers.

The Francis Howell School District recently adopted a policy that will require volunteer workers who have lived in Missouri for the last five years to undergo a state criminal records check instead of a national FBI background check.

The in-state check, which is based on a person's name, does not require volunteers to be fingerprinted, making results available faster. However, volunteers who recently moved to the state will still be required to undergo FBI background checks.

In addition, all volunteers will have to undergo a background check every four years, and the district will continue to verify that all volunteers are not sex offenders, according to an article by Suburban Journals.

Officials at Francis Howell School District evaluate the background check of each volunteer depending on different parameters. For instance, someone convicted of child endangerment or drug possession would not be allowed to volunteer at all, while someone convicted of driving while intoxicated may be able to volunteer as long as they are not transporting children in their vehicle.

There is some controversy over the new policy, because while an in-state background check will reveal any open criminal records in Missouri, it will not show if a person was arrested and no charges were filed, if a person was found not guilty or if a person completed a sustained imposition of sentence.

On the positive side, the new policy has the potential to save the district a good amount of money, as the FBI background checks cost $52.50 per person and the Missouri checks only cost $9 per person. The district paid for 700 FBI background checks this year alone.


This still leaves out the possibility of child abusers being in schools. What about those convicted in other states? What about all the child abusers that are not known-that is probably 5 times the amount that are actually convicted? It really seems like a waste of money for certain people. I can understand its use for people that are around the children all the time, or will be with them on an overnight trip. But just to go on a field trip with my child? That seems ridiculous. What scares me is that I'm not allowed to go until I do a background check, yet there are child abusers getting through the process because they weren't convicted on the charges, or they served their probation, it was in another state or even country or they haven't been caught yet-and these people are with my child on a trip away from school. The process is not going to keep people who have convicted crimes against children-this is just more money spent to prevent the schools from being sued. All the years I was in school we always had parent volunteers in the classes most of the time-and in all of those 12 years I never heard of one case of a volunteer abusing a child.

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