On April 26, the Ontario School District Board of Directors met to discuss the first readings for two new policies, IICC and GDCA/GDDA, passing one of them and moving another to a second reading. The policies relate to volunteering within the school district. They involve the criminal background checks/fingerprinting, and unsupervised interaction between volunteers and students.
In regards to IICC, board member Eric Evans asked, “Are we saying that we allow unsupervised contact with students?”
“We do at times,” Eric Norton replied, “When you have [things, such as] field trips, and kids are split into groups, around 8-10 parents are asked to participate …; teachers won’t be able to be with every group [at all times]. It doesn’t happen a lot, but in the bigger field trips, it will happen.”
Evans then continued to verify the policies intentions, by questioning the context of ‘unsupervised’ contact. Board member Craig Geddes said that it would refer to any contact with students without the company of a School District employee.
Policy IICC relates to unsupervised interaction between a volunteer and a student or group of students. It states that a volunteer, authorized by the district, will have to undergo an in-state and national criminal records check. According to the policy, this also includes any volunteer who will not likely have unsupervised interaction with students. Despite the fact that a volunteer may have a clear background check, the school district will then reserve the right to deny a volunteer, if they deem it necessary.
When talking about the policy, Norton added, “All volunteers will be treated the same; we look at the situation, recency, and [immensity], thus reserving the right to deny.”
The board continued to a section in policy IICC regarding whether volunteers would be allowed to contact students in the form of electronic communication. The board decided that electronic communication, from a volunteer to students, will be prohibited. The board members discussed that, if the policy is straight forward, it could be passed on the first reading. Eric Evans was the first to motion to pass it, seconded by Craig Geddes; the decision was unanimous for the board.
Policy GCDA/GDDA refers to the criminal record checks and fingerprinting process for the school district. The district requires all district employees to undergo criminal record checks and fingerprinting. All of the licensed staff, such as teachers, counselors and administrators, undergo a national background check through TSPC. The classified staff, such as coaches, volunteers and chaperones, will undergo an Oregon Department of Education background check. When explaining the two types of background checks, Norton added, “ODE, on their website, you can go on and check all unlicensed individuals to see if there is a current investigation, any founded investigations, or any criminal background for all unlicensed individuals.”
The policy states that volunteers may be allowed by the district to begin on a probationary basis, pending, until the district receives the background check. It also states that a volunteer may appeal to the superintendent a fingerprint based records check by ODE that would prevent the ability to volunteer for the district. The policy also states that if an individual has knowingly made a false statement regarding the presence of any convictions that would not otherwise prohibit employment or contract with the district ‘may’ be employed or contracted through the district. The policy further mentions that a volunteer that knowingly made a false statement or has been convicted of any crimes listed within the ORS 342.143, or anything equivalent to the crimes listed; will be terminated.
After discussing the policy GCDA/GDDA, the board moved, and seconded, to approve the first reading of the policy. The vote ended as a unanimous vote for the approval of the first reading, with a second reading anticipated at a future meeting.