The Parks and Recreation board of Lee’s Summit, Missouri recently passed a new proposal tightening background checks on its employees and volunteers. A similar proposal has been percolating within the Parks department for several months now, but administrators were initially hesitant to tighten background check policies, fearing that they would prove “too restrictive” in scope. However, there was a recent incident in the city, involving the coach of a youth soccer team who secretly filmed members of his team nude in his home. The man is now facing a federal conviction for the attempted production of child pornography.
Parents in Lee’s Summit are likely glad that the incident did not involve more harmful sexual offenses or assaults, but the incident has undoubtedly put the spotlight on the city’s Parks and Recreation department and its background check policies.
Not that the Lee’s Summit Parks and Rec department had previously allowed employees to have close contact with children without any form of pre-screening. On the contrary, the Parks department has always required its employees to go through some form of background check. The newly approved proposal, however, will bring the department into closer step with the National Recreation and Parks Association. In the past, the Lee’s Summit Parks department has always been notably less strict than its federal parent organization.
In fact, Lee’s Summit will remain a bit more lenient than the national association. The new background checks policy will look mostly at criminal records and offender registries, disqualifying or approving potential employees or volunteers based on a number of criteria. Similar criminal and offender checks are offered on an affordable basis from backgroundchecks.com.
For instance, any previous sex offense is grounds for immediate disqualification from employment consideration. Felonies committed in the past 10 years also place applicants on the virtual blacklist, as do misdemeanor offenses involving violence (in the past seven years) or drugs (in the past five years). Finally, applicants who have been convicted for supplying a minor with alcohol, or who have any past connection with a kidnapping charge, will not be considered for employment or volunteer status with the Lee’s Summit Parks and Recreation department.
The major difference between the Lee’s Summit rules and the recommendations of the National Recreation and Parks Association is that the Lee’s Summit department has chosen not to view misdemeanor alcohol charges as a reason for rejecting volunteers. The organization reasoned that, since the area is home to many young families or recent college graduates, many otherwise qualified volunteers may have old minor in possession charges (MIP) or driving under the influence charges (DUI) that they are trying to work past.