I have to admit I am a bit of a social media junky and have been amazed over the past few weeks at the number of blog posts and tweets bemoaning school volunteer background checks. Who complains about schools requiring background checks? The complainers range from the highly ignorant to the highly educated. However, hardly a week passes that I do not come across a school teacher or volunteer in trouble for a relationship with a student.
What is frightening is many school districts conduct low quality background checks on their volunteers. And if we pair these low quality background checks with the huge volume of volunteers that walk into our schools each year we have a recipe for disaster.
So what are the 5 main reasons for low quality school volunteer background checks:
- Money. These are tough times for schools, budgets have been cut and money is tight. However, like every organization we always find money for the things that are important to us. A leading financial guru recently said “show me your checkbook and I will know where your priorities are.”
- Misunderstanding. Schools may be using out-dated state repositories or sex offender registry searches. Both of these options are extremely limited and provide very little risk mitigation.
- Volunteers are Never Alone with Kids. Sophisticated offenders do not have to be alone with a child to harm them. They can molest a child in a crowded classroom with teachers and other volunteers present.
- We Won’t Get Volunteers. If a volunteer is offended by having to submit to a background check then they have something to hide, are ignorant of the dangers in our schools or feel they are above the process. Education will solve most of these issues.
- Background Screening Firm Selling Cheap National Database Searches. If a school uses a “one click” instant background checks for $9 or $10 as a volunteer screening program save your money, you may need it for legal fees. The vast majority of criminals, including sex offenders, can slip through these databases.
Just last week a former high school volunteer pled guilty to one felony count of child seduction after admitting to having sex with a student. The convicted sex offender avoided a prison sentence but is required to register as a sex offender for the next 10 years. Keeping these offenders out of our school hallways must become a top priority.
Join us for a FREE 30 minute webinar on 06/09/11 at 2PM EST: School Volunteer Background Checks: Protecting Kids & Reducing Risk
Do you think volunteers pose legal risk to schools? Let us know what you think below.