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Background checks being expanded for Hampton's school volunteers

| Thursday, March 15, 2012

Hampton Township School District school board members are drafting a policy that would require many volunteers to obtain background checks and clearances before working in the district.

Administrators introduced the policy last week as a way to address continued concerns from principals.

"It's come to a point where we felt we had to address it," said Jo Welter, assistant superintendent.

The policy is drafted primarily to require clearances for athletic volunteers who regularly assist coaches, for chaperones on overnight or out-of-town trips, or those who may have direct supervision over students. Volunteers who work under the direct supervision of school staff would not be required to provide clearances.

The proposed clearances include the Act 34 Pennsylvania Criminal Records Check, Act 151 Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance and the Act 114 Federal Criminal History Background Check, which requires volunteers to be fingerprinted.

Volunteers would be responsible for the cost of obtaining the clearances -- a total of about $60.

Some school board members questioned language in the policy and whether it would prohibit parents who are volunteering from transporting their children in their own cars.

School Board President David Gurwin said it was unclear which groups of volunteers the policy would affect, especially because assistant coaches already are required to provide clearances to get the board's approval, and the phrase "regularly assist" is not explicit.

"I think it's a good idea to have this stuff," Gurwin said of the policy. "I just want to know who we're talking about."

Gurwin suggested the administration review the policy again and look at the language based on school board members' concerns.

Administrators will present a revised draft of the policy to the school board at 7 p.m. April 2 in the library at Hampton Middle School, 4589 School Drive.

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