Penn Hills School District committee fine-tunes volunteer guidelines
At what point does a guest become a volunteer?
Penn Hills school board members and administrators discussed fine-tuning the definitions of the terms at a meeting of the board's policy committee Feb. 18.
The district's volunteer policy, adopted in January 2012, establishes two volunteer categories and one for guests.
A Level 1 volunteer is someone who assists and works directly under the supervision of a PHSD teacher or administrator and does not provide direct services to students or have unsupervised contact with them. They are required to obtain clearance from the state police and the state Department of Child Welfare.
Level 2 volunteers also work under supervision of a teacher or administrator but “may have reasonable expectations to have unsupervised contact with students.” These volunteers are required to obtain an additional clearance from the FBI.
“Guest” is defined as a person “invited into the school for a single event” who is “encouraged, but not required, to have clearances.”
Committee members have proposed defining guest as “a person who has spent 10 hours or less during the school year” performing volunteer work.
Superintendent Thomas Washington said a person volunteering more than 10 hours would be encouraged to get clearances.
“At that point, if a person still doesn't get them, then you have to ask why they're trying to get around the clearance requirement,” he said.
Building principals are responsible for guest lists at their schools, Washington said, and would be responsible for identifying frequent guests.
The committee also discussed the role and policy covering boosters for district athletic groups. Some band boosters, for example, act as chaperones supervising students at home and away games, while some football boosters pay booster dues and do not volunteer or supervise students.
The committee proposed requiring all boosters who are reasonably expected to have unsupervised contact with students to obtain clearances and keep them on file with the district.
Board member Denise Graham-Shealey, who attended the meeting but is not a committee member, wanted to know what the district's timeline would be for requiring volunteers to get clearances.
“Hopefully we're not going to vote on this in March and then expect everyone to have clearances the next day,” Graham-Shealey said.
District human resources director Lindsay Pfister said the remainder of this year would be devoted to informing volunteers about the policy and how to get clearances. They would be required to have them by next year.
Parent Teacher Association President Chris Polaski said PTAs have been informed of the proposed changes and advised to begin having volunteers seek needed clearances.
The school board will vote on the proposed policy at its meeting at 7:30 p.m. March 11 in the high school, 309 Collins Drive.
Patrick Varine is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7845 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.