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Policy update requires fingerprinting for some school volunteers

The School Board on June 13, 2017 adopted revisions to its policy governing volunteers.

It was the policy subcommittee's third draft of proposed updates, which include prohibiting volunteer use of personal photo/video devices while on duty; and, requiring fingerprints of volunteers who regularly work one-on-one with a student, and of volunteers who accompany students on overnight field trips.

"It's taken that while to refine this to the point where we're very satisfied that this gives us the quality volunteer support we're looking for, as well as being cognizent of the fact that we're bringing lots and lots of adults in to work with kids," said board member Barbara Powers, chair of the policy committee.

The fingerprinting requirement would affect only a handful of volunteers, Powers said. "Under 10 probably, the number of people, but taking this last step for student safety purposes seems to be appropriate for the board to approve," she said.

Here is a summary of approved updates to the volunteer policy:

  • Requiring background checks of volunteers every five years;
  • Requiring community volunteers who do not have children in schools to submit two references;
  • Fingerprinting of volunteers who work regularly with a student one-on-one, and of those volunteering for overnight field trips;
  • Defining "regular" volunteers as "those who come in on a frequent basis for a specific purpose;"
  • Adding a stipulation that volunteers work "in the classroom or in a highly visible and accessible open setting" under the direction or supervision of authorized staff;
  • Prohibiting volunteers on duty from taking photos or videos of students with personal devices;
  • Requiring annual review of the policy, "so that key provisions are highlighted for all staff as the new school year begins."

Board members thanked the committee and all who worked on the revisions, which they like Powers said balances the needs for student safety with recruiting quality volunteers. The updates are also outlined in the 2017 Volunteer Report submitted by coordinator John Holdridge, who initiated the policy review.

The report also outlines the accomplishements of the more than 1,000 volunteers who contributed their time and talent to enrich Cape Elizabeth schools in 2016-17.