School Chaperone Background Check Rules and Best Practices

Could your children be traveling on field trips with a convicted felon or one of America’s Most Wanted? It might not be as far-fetched as it sounds. There could be hidden risks, but a school chaperone background check can help. See why vetting matters and what schools can do.

Does a School Chaperone Need to Pass a Background Check?

Field trips are a time-honored tradition in grade school, providing valuable opportunities for learning and fun outside the classroom. Chaperones provide teachers with critical support during these trips, helping keep children together and safe throughout their experience. If they are non-faculty, such as parents or regular volunteers, chaperones must pass a background check before the trip. Teachers and other employees typically undergo school background checks at the start of their tenure.

Why Criminal Background Checks for Schools Matter So Much

Parents expect the people they entrust their children’s lives to be safe and trustworthy, but unfortunately, that is not always the case. Even in schools, there have been incidents of mistreatment and abuse at the hands of teachers, coaches, and counselors.

Conducting background checks on every chaperone who comes into contact with the children is crucial to their safety. They help schools identify red flags, such as a history of violence, that could put children in harm’s way. Even if the person chaperoneing the field trip is a parent, the school should conduct a background check as part of its due diligence.

What Background Checks Do Schools Use?

Schools use different types of background checks for various purposes. A typical school background check (for teachers and other staff) involves verifying a person’s employment history, doing a reference check, and checking if they have a criminal history.

The background check process for a school chaperone is different. It’s usually much less intensive and focuses on criminal convictions and other relevant offenses. These might include a violent felony, a serious drug conviction, or a sexual criminal offense. Schools have several avenues for finding the necessary information, such as:

In some cities and states, background checks are only available through the state police or a government agency. This situation can create bottlenecks in the process, and in such areas, schools should plan to vet chaperones early to avoid problems nearer to the date of the field trip.

Additionally, it may be prudent for schools to conduct an alias background check initially. These reports can indicate whether an individual has criminal records associated with them under another or similar name. This step is vital for schools that want to be thorough and can substantially improve the rest of the process.

Do Fair Chance or Ban the Box Laws Apply Here?

Nationwide, there has been a significant push to adopt Fair Chance laws that limit how and when some organizations and employers can use background checks. Fair Chance laws require delaying background checks until later in the hiring process – typically after a conditional employment offer. These are also called Ban the Box laws, which refer to the tick box on job applications that asks if one has been convicted of a felony.

Do schools need to worry about potential legal trouble from using background checks for chaperones in Fair Chance jurisdictions? Luckily, the answer, for now, seems to be no. Since these checks are not for gainful employment but volunteer positions, most Ban the Box laws won’t be relevant.

However, that doesn’t mean there are no regulations to follow. Be aware that the Fair Credit Reporting Act still applies in some ways, even if local Ban the Box or Fair Chance laws don’t.

The FCRA requires you to obtain an individual’s consent before requesting a background check. As a best practice, the school should obtain written permission from the individual and provide them with a disclosure of their rights under the FCRA.

How to Get a Background Check for a School Chaperone

Schools requiring background checks for their chaperones can use a professional background check service to conduct a criminal record search. It’s advisable to complete the screening at least a week before the field trip. Background checks generally take about three days, but it’s good to factor in extra time for delays.

Alternatively, you can opt for an instant school chaperone background check, such as our US OneSearch service. This tool searches court records, sex offender registries, terrorist watchlists, and criminal records from all fifty states, Washington DC, Guam, and Puerto Rico.

Here are the requirements for conducting a background check on a school chaperone:

  • Full name and contact information
  • Written consent from the individual to undergo a background check
  • Social security number (optional, for more in-depth results)
  • Date of birth (optional, for more in-depth results)

Equipping Your Organization for Safer Chaperoning

How can you be sure you aren’t about to send kids to visit the zoo or a science museum with one of the FBI’s Most Wanted? Developing robust chaperone screening policies will go a long way towards giving your teachers, parents and students the peace of mind they deserve. Strong protocols, the right tools, and a firm no-exceptions policy for any parent chaperone or volunteer are the ingredients for safety.

At, we have a complete suite of school background check tools ready for educational organizations to put to work today. With our extensive Learning Center, you can explore more about the different kinds of criminal record checks and vetting best practices to foster safer school trips. Find out more about these tools now and create the confidence parents need from their children’s schools today.


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Michael Klazema

About Michael Klazema The author

Michael Klazema is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments

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