Good morning Goochland!
This post is designed to offer some clarity to an issue that has been causing some turbulence among our community members. Let me get right to the heart of the matter and deliver the punchline first, then we’ll unpack some of the details that may be of interest to you.
We will NOT ask our volunteers to pay for their own background checks. I realize this is in conflict with what you’ve recently heard, but this is the final word. I credit our five principals entirely with finding creative ways to fund these background checks, which cost $44 regardless of the school in which you volunteer.
Upon learning that there was no funding available for these checks, our principals appropriately turned immediately to the issue of your children’s safety. They began relaying the unfortunate news about our inability to support the fees internally. Again, I support them completely – their instinct, despite how it would be received, was to ensure our students’ safety.
But immediately thereafter, they adamantly responded to what we all felt: that it was unconscionable to visit the fee upon the volunteers, themselves. We pulled together under the direction of the School Board, and found a way to make this right.
Demetra Harris, our specialist who administers personnel service and benefit programs, is responsible for scheduling, completing and processing the background checks, which have two parts:
- FBI Fingerprint Screening ($37), which checks for criminal history, prior arrests, etc.
- Social Services Clearance ($7), which checks specifically for any founded or pending cases of abuse or neglect of children assigned to the individual’s care
Mrs. Harris processes the checks during the work day, but is offering an option to accommodate those whose work schedule won’t allow them to come in during the day for the screening. If you’ve completed the Volunteer Application and are in need of the background check, please contact Mrs. Harris at (804)556-5603 and she will schedule a time for you accordingly.
What happens with the information we receive? If there are any indications of “flags” on the screening results, that information comes in a sealed envelop to Mrs. Harris. She delivers that documentation to me personally and I contact the individual to let them know we have received that information and, if necessary, ask them to engage in a discussion with me about the incident until we can reach resolution about the individual’s work in our schools with your children.
It is kept in the strictest confidence and Mrs. Harris and I are the only two employees with access to the information.
So where’d we find the money? From a tiny portion of a residual grant fund from a past year, we will be able to capture about $3,000 in revenue this year that was unexpected. This will give us just enough flexibility to process the background check fees on behalf of our volunteers.
Again, I applaud our principals for their determination to help us work through this dilemma, maintaining the School Board and division’s commitment to keeping every child safe at school while extending this courtesy to our generous community members who sacrifice their time and talents for the benefit of our children.
This collaborative effort between our School Board and Leadership has enabled us to appropriately welcome our selfless volunteers with respect and gratitude. We are also able to say to you, our parents, with absolute certainty that we have expended every effort to ensure that your children will not be exposed to any individual who poses a threat to their safety at school.