Do your kids' schools make it difficult to volunteer? - Page 3 - Mothering Forums

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#61 of 64 Old 09-13-2009, 04:53 PM
 
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Originally Posted by StephandOwen View Post
At ds's school (public school in a largish city) they require all volunteers to fill out and "pass" their forms. Basically it's name, addy, ssn, phone number. They do a background check and if you clear it, you can volunteer. But younger children are not allowed on field trips or anything like that if you're volunteering.
The younger sibling thing is a liability issue, or so I'm told by our district. A parent can transport for field trips with a younger siblings in the car, but not actually attend the field trip.
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#62 of 64 Old 09-13-2009, 06:13 PM
 
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We had a parent orientation yesterday, and school administrators talked about how much they want/need parent volunteers, but then they described the volunteer process and I can see why they don't get the turn-out they hope for. I understand that they need to comply with state law and that safety measures must be in place, but it seems like they'd do whatever they could to make it as easy as possible to get more volunteers, you know?

To be allowed to volunteer, parents have to be fingerprinted, have a TB test, and have their picture taken for a photo ID, which I totally understand, but those three things have to be done at three different places (the police station, doctor's office, and the district headquarters), rather than them arranging to at least have the fingerprinting and photos maybe done at a common location for 1 or 2 days where parents could come by and take care of it. It just seems like more people would do it if it was more convenient.

I asked whether I could just do the photo part and then give them a copy of my California state teaching credential (for which I had to have fingerprinting and TB testing done), and they said no! I'd have to be re-fingerprinted and have another TB test, even though mine are already on file with the state credential offices. So ... I could get a job teaching in a classroom, but I'm not allowed to volunteer unless I jump through their hoops. It just seems extreme. Is it this difficult to volunteer at your kids' schools?
I would be fine with all of the criteria you metnioned, my girls' school makes it difficult because they do not allow me to bring my toddler with me to volunteer. I know toddlers can be a handful, but i wear her on my back in a carrier and she just hangs out-i dont know why i cant simply make copies and collate handouts in the office-so yeah-i find they make it difficult to volunteer but not for the reasons you listed.

Heavily tattooed and Dready Mama to my girls. YES we are STILL NURSING! love to and
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#63 of 64 Old 09-26-2009, 02:40 AM
 
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We just started back to school on Tuesday, so four days. Public elementary school in San Diego. My understanding is the state of California changed some "rules" (perhaps even the whole country and it is a law, I didn't pay that much attention). I vaguely recall the mention of "Megan's law", but I am not familiar with it.

Anyway, there are four different levels of volunteers and four different levels of "hoops" to accompany those levels. The strictest/most involved level is the one that puts a volunteer directly with children. The more removed your volunteering is from one-on-one with kids, the less paperwork/hoops in order to volunteer. However, I did catch that we have to repeat it every year regardless of which level.

In the past, we could go to our school district office and do it all at once, although TB testing requires a second visit. It is free. One could also go to your private doctor (at your expense) or to a local school with a nurse who is present two days a week (our school nurse is only there one day a week, so couldn't do the TB test properly; this option is also free).

I suspect the sheer information overload has led some districts/principals to ignore that there are legally four levels for volunteer checks and just do the strictest for everyone to make sure they comply. Thankfully, our principal and/or district is recognizing the differences. As far as what is actually required for each level, I confess I didn't pay close enough attention to spell that out. My DD is in third grade and teachers at her school don't really need help specifically in the classroom above Kindergarten. I volunteered in the past for all sorts of things, but have taken a step back this year anyway (before knowing about the new "rules"). I haven't decided how I am going to volunteer this year.
I thought I would follow up........
We had Back to School night this week and parent volunteers were requested in DD's new class. She was moved into a 3/4 combo class and while this teacher is awesome and I've heard great things about him, he has not taught a combo class before. So, he is reaching out to parents and asking for help. A group of us have agreed to take on the biggest task and thus I have started down the application process.

Our school has a parent volunteer coordinator (PTA Board position) who has handled the volunteer applications and formalities in the past. Anyone who volunteers a few times gets to know her. Well, this year, she is not allowed to handle the application process. A school employee has to handle all applications now. The PTA lady is helping out as much as possible within the new laws/rules/guidelines. I got my packet from her today.

Step 1 - Fill out application (annually).

Step 2 - Fill out request to conduct volunteer screening (category C and category D volunteers only - annually)
Category A and Category B volunteers do not need to do this.
A is defined as a volunteer who enters school for a one-time event and has no unsupervised contact with children.
B is defined as having group exposure who have little or no direct unsupervised contact with children.
C is defined as volunteers with classroom exposure, who work with children and are generally supervised by district staff. [Most of our school's volunteers fall under this category due to field trips more than anything else.]
D is defined as volunteers with unrestricted exposure, who work with children and may be unsupervised by district staff.
Each category gives examples that are pretty easy to relate to.

Step 3 varies according to the categories -
A = Bring govt ID with picture and sign in and wear a badge. These folks don't need the step 1 app, but this is mostly guest speakers or performers in assemblies and the like.
B and up = follows step 1 and presents govt ID with picture and tuberculosis clearance card (in advance), sign in each time, wear a badge each time, and then it depends...

Bs get checked on site by designated school staff against meganslaw website.
Cs submit auto insurance info for field trips and submit to a criminal background check by the district police (school district police).
Ds submit to fingerprinting by the district police.

The good news for us is our school district is making it fairly easy by doing Cat. A & B at the school site. Cat. C gives all paperwork to school. Cat. D takes everything to the district police, which is fairly central in the district. There are no fees for any of the above. In all cases, the district has and continues to offer tuberculosis screening at no charge in several locations. That one piece is good for four years. All other pieces must be done annually, but really it is only one extra piece of paper (super short, too) and for most volunteers everything is submitted to the school where they will be volunteering.

Not much different for our school district on the volunteer's end.

However, the district has taken on a LOT more work and the turnaround is at least two weeks before clearance is given to category Cs, so field trips have already been canceled for October. I can totally see how and why some districts have opted to put this responsibility onto the volunteers. No offense to anyone, but the districts didn't make the law and most are already stretched due to the budget cuts. It sucks all the way around, IMO. We want to protect our kids, yet many (including myself) feel that we are an extremist society and have gone overboard. Who really wins? Not the kids, IMO, but rather the criminals in a sick and twisted way or perhaps no one....

"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless." - Mother Teresa

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#64 of 64 Old 09-26-2009, 09:51 PM
 
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Originally Posted by akwifeandmomma View Post
Whoa.

We just let the teacher know when we're coming in. My DS does go to a charter school where volunteer hours are required (4 hrs per family per month), though.
Same here, but we're at regular old public school and there are no required volunteer hours.
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