Blog

 
     

Pennsylvania School District Approves Guidelines That Will Call for 560 New Background Checks

By Michael Klazema on 6/29/2015
Pennsylvania school districts and youth serving organizations have been scrambling to implement new background checks policies, as the deadline set by a new state law looms. The state's Child Protective Services Law, which calls for all volunteers who work with children to undergo background checks, officially goes into effect on July 1st. One school district, in Parkland, recently told the press that the new law has led them to approve a sweeping new set of guidelines, guidelines that will necessitate new background checks for at least 560 people.

That number sounds excessive, but it's more or less par for the course for large school districts that rely heavily on volunteer work. Parkland School District's volunteers include chaperones for field trips, assistant coaches with school athletic programs, and more. Each of the 560 individuals who perform this kind of unpaid work in any given year will now be required to undergo state criminal history background checks and child abuse history clearances.

Parkland's new policy also helped answer some of the questions that has been most common among Pennsylvania schools, organizations, and volunteers since the Child Protective Services Law was passed. There has been a significant amount of confusion about how much "contact with children" demands a volunteer undergo a background check, and further, about who actually qualifies as a volunteer.

In answer to the former question, Parkland is erring on the side of security, requiring background checks for anyone over the age of 18 "who is responsible for the welfare of one or more children" or who "has direct contact with children through any program, activity, or service sponsored by the district or one of its schools." The basic idea is that anyone who has consistent or regular contact with children will now need background checks.

"Consistent" and "regular" are also the words used to decide whether or not someone qualifies as a volunteer. For instance, a parent coming into class to present for Career Day or to read a book during story time would be considered a visitor instead of a volunteer, and would not be required to get a background check. However, a parent serving as a regular classroom aidewould be classified as a volunteer and would have to undergo background check.

While the Parkland School District say they have gotten some calls from parents about the new policy, the hope is that most of the 560 volunteers that now need background checks won't be scared off by the prospect. The district has made it easy for volunteers to order the state criminal and child abuse checks, with a link on their website to the relevant websites. Meanwhile, the State Governor's office has waived the fees of both of the checks for school volunteers, meaning that there isn't a financial obligation there.

Parkland School District has done a great job of managing a difficult transition and turning a convoluted law into something easy to understand and digest. Other school districts in Pennsylvania could take a page out of Parkland's book as they look to implement their own new background check policies for volunteers.

Source: http://www.mcall.com/news/local/parkland/mc-parkand-volunteer-background-checks-20150625-story.html
Industry News

Tag Cloud
Categories
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • June 20 Repeat background checks are becoming more common, with companies in India leading the charge. What does this trend look like, and how can employers embrace it now to stay ahead of the curve?
  • June 19

    Every federal job involves a background check of some kind. These background checks and how they are evaluated vary based on job, department, and security clearance level.


  • June 18

  • June 14 Ban the box laws aim to improve opportunities for employment. Could they have the opposite effect instead?
  • June 13 Jacobs Petroleum Products is a regional petroleum company that operates throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and Maryland. Apart from their employees carrying much responsibility and have frequent contact with customers, the company’s hiring also tends to be segmented since individual store managers are responsible for hiring talent for their own stores. In this employment landscape, Jacobs Petroleum Products needed a reliable and effective way to screen its new hires for criminal infractions and other red flags.
  • June 12

    The University of Wisconsin System may tweak its hiring and reference check processes. The potential changes come after one of UW’s assistant deans was accused of sexual harassment.


  • June 07 Stories of abuse by coaches in youth sports leagues continue to crop up around the country, but rules and guidelines remain patchy and enforcement is often lacking. The struggle to implement an effective system continues nationwide.
  • June 07 Financial background checks, usually referred to as credit history checks, can be an effective way to find out if a candidate is fit to handle accounts, financial data, and other assets at your business.
  • June 06 The Society for Human Resource Management and the Charles Koch Institute recently commissioned a survey to find out how willing employers were to hire people with criminal records. The study indicates that managers, HR professionals, and employees themselves are becoming more comfortable with the idea of hiring and working with ex-offenders.
  • June 04 Are fingerprint background checks the gold standard for employee screening, or are they overhyped? We look at some of the myths and misconceptions surrounding these checks.