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

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#1 of 64 Old 09-09-2009, 08:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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?

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#2 of 64 Old 09-09-2009, 08:54 PM
 
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I've never experienced anything that rigid. I've heard of it in co-op preschools, though.
But my DS1 has been in three elementary schools now, and every single one has restricted volunteers from bringing other children along, regardless of activity or the child's age. Well, I'm a SAHM and I have a younger son as well. My DH has always worked long, strange, or a combination of both hours. I cannot do almost anything without my younger son being with me.
So this means I can't volunteer. You'd think if they wanted help, they'd allow you to help!
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#3 of 64 Old 09-09-2009, 09:07 PM
 
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Our school asks us to fill out a form authorizing a background check and that is it.

Do you feel like your child's school would be receptive to you volunteering to set up a classroom volunteer day?

I imagine it wouldn't take too much to find a clinic willing to send a nurse out on two separate days to administer and read the TB tests and you could see if the police station or sheriffs office would be willing to be on site the second day to do the fingerprinting. Then you'd just need to publicize the event to parents and let them know about any applicable costs for the tests.

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#4 of 64 Old 09-09-2009, 09:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Our school asks us to fill out a form authorizing a background check and that is it.

Do you feel like your child's school would be receptive to you volunteering to set up a classroom volunteer day?

I imagine it wouldn't take too much to find a clinic willing to send a nurse out on two separate days to administer and read the TB tests and you could see if the police station or sheriffs office would be willing to be on site the second day to do the fingerprinting. Then you'd just need to publicize the event to parents and let them know about any applicable costs for the tests.
That's a good idea, but no, I'm not willing to put in that time/effort commitment. Apparently the principal asked the district office to at least send someone out to the school to take photos on-site rather than having to make parents schedule appointments/set aside time to go do that, but the office said no.

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#5 of 64 Old 09-09-2009, 10:32 PM
 
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That does sound extreme. My oldest child is in first grade, she attended the same school for PreK, K, and now 1st. I get 4 volunteer hours from work each year and have used them volunteering at her school every year. I have helped out in her classroom, done field day, and helped with costumes/hair when they put on a play. I am also in the PTO and on the school improvement team. Dh and I both take active roles in the annual haunted house (our biggest fund raiser). He acts in the haunted house and I do the games/booths. Neither of us has ever been fingerprinted, TB tested or back ground checked. I can see the reasoning for these things especially the back ground check but I guess our school just doesn't require it.

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#6 of 64 Old 09-09-2009, 10:40 PM
 
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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.
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#7 of 64 Old 09-09-2009, 10:44 PM
 
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Dc's school (public) just started doing the background check policy in the middle of the year last year. They just photocopied my driver's license and did the background check. Dd's preschool (public) had did the same thing. But the expensive private preschool that ds went to didn't.
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#8 of 64 Old 09-09-2009, 10:45 PM
 
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DS goes to a private preschool, they just send emails or fliers home to the parents. If you show up and say you can help, they put you right to work.

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#9 of 64 Old 09-09-2009, 10:48 PM
 
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Originally Posted by limabean View Post
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.
I wouldn't volunteer for them and I'd laugh in their faces whenever they whined about not having enough money.
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#10 of 64 Old 09-09-2009, 10:55 PM
 
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That is craziness. Parents can stop in and help out at any time, no problem.

I'm a teacher and all I ask is that parents let me know when they want to come in.

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#11 of 64 Old 09-09-2009, 10:58 PM
 
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If you are a regular volunteer you do have to go through those things at my dd's school, but if you just volunteer once in a while you don't. I would rather they were more stringent about letting parents volunteer because I don't like the idea of having my dd or my students sent off alone on a field trip with someone who has a history of violence against children. I think it is right to put children's safety first. I also don't see what shortage of money has to do with volunteering or why someone would laugh about their children's school having very little money to purchase material students need to learn. Schools follow mandatory safety regulations and they have no control over where the TB testing, photo id, and government run background checks are done. I think it mean spirited to laugh in a teacher's face just because you don't like that your school district takes measures to make sure kids are safe.
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#12 of 64 Old 09-09-2009, 11:11 PM
 
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There is nothing like that here & we have ALOT of parent volunteers in the school. I work in 2 different school divisions & even staff don't have TB tests or photo id
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#13 of 64 Old 09-09-2009, 11:15 PM
 
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Our kids go to a charter school in the begining it was "hi I'm here and want to help" about a year ago the finger printing started and now they have new state regs to follow that include at least the fingerprinting and background check (they are having a meeting next week, which will then lead to volunteer training and other things). I gave up volunteering it was just too hard.


I too have a valid teaching license for our state, they too said that was lovely but that wouldn't be enough.

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#14 of 64 Old 09-10-2009, 12:38 AM
 
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Our school makes it very, very easy. We have a web site to sign up and everything is electronic and easy. The teacher sends out a calendar each month with the parents' volunteer commitment. It is just very, very easy.

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#15 of 64 Old 09-10-2009, 01:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the replies. It's interesting to know that this does not appear to be the norm. I'll have to ask parents at other districts in my area and see how it is for them.

One_Girl, I can understand what you're saying and I agree that it wouldn't be appropriate to lash out at the child's teacher over a district policy. But I understand the temptation, if DS's teacher were to ask me about volunteering, to kind of smirk and say, "Gee, I'd love to, but I don't have the time to go through the background check process, especially since I just did all that 2 years ago to get my teaching credential." I would never do that, but I understand the impulse, and I think that's where the poster you quoted was coming from.

Since I have a baby at home, in-class volunteering wouldn't really work out for me anyway, so I think I'll ask the teacher if there are any at-home ways I can help, like cutting paper for class craft projects or something. I do think they're shooting themselves in the foot here though. I understand having to have the policies in place, but it seems obvious to me that they would benefit themselves (because they'd get so many more volunteers) by making it as easy as possible for parents to get all that background check stuff done. I just can't understand why they can't run a 2-day "volunteer sign-up clinic" or something where you could just stop by the school and get everything taken care of and be good to go. So yeah, I understand the urge to think, "Okay, well, I'm all for volunteering, but ... you just lost my help for this year, unfortunately."

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#16 of 64 Old 09-10-2009, 01:37 PM
 
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I think its sad that is has gotten so hard to help in our dcs schools- finger printing and background checks seem really over the top to me.

Ex- say as a young adult you made a really bad decision and paid the price (say a drug charge) but now its been 20 years and you've turned ur life around have kids and wnat to help in their school but now you can't because you've had a drug charge! more and more people I know have this problem.and at such a young age say 18 you are NOT thinking about maybe some day helping at your dcs school!

and its been my experience that parents that want to help are not the ones to worry about- obivisiously they know how important children are and being involved is. the parents you don't want around your children don't want to want to be around your children or theirs for that matter! and don't volunteer anyways!
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#17 of 64 Old 09-10-2009, 02:03 PM
 
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Since I have a baby at home, in-class volunteering wouldn't really work out for me anyway, so I think I'll ask the teacher if there are any at-home ways I can help, like cutting paper for class craft projects or something. I do think they're shooting themselves in the foot here though. I understand having to have the policies in place, but it seems obvious to me that they would benefit themselves (because they'd get so many more volunteers) by making it as easy as possible for parents to get all that background check stuff done. I just can't understand why they can't run a 2-day "volunteer sign-up clinic" or something where you could just stop by the school and get everything taken care of and be good to go. So yeah, I understand the urge to think, "Okay, well, I'm all for volunteering, but ... you just lost my help for this year, unfortunately."
That sounds like a great idea to offer to help at home.

Is this a school policy or a district policy? It sounds like a pain! I had to get background checked before I could teach at our church but all I had to do was fill out a form and they sent it to whoever.

My kids' school doesn't do background checks. WE had an incident with a parent volunteer last year. He had volunteered before and was also involved in Cub Scouts. He lost his cool, reacted inappropriately and hurt a student. But I'm sure this man would have passed a background check so it's not like that would have helped anything.
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#18 of 64 Old 09-10-2009, 02:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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That sounds like a great idea to offer to help at home.

Is this a school policy or a district policy? It sounds like a pain! I had to get background checked before I could teach at our church but all I had to do was fill out a form and they sent it to whoever.

My kids' school doesn't do background checks. WE had an incident with a parent volunteer last year. He had volunteered before and was also involved in Cub Scouts. He lost his cool, reacted inappropriately and hurt a student. But I'm sure this man would have passed a background check so it's not like that would have helped anything.
That sounds scary. It's not the fact that they do background checks that bothers me, it's the fact that they're refusing to organize it so that it can be done easily. It's just frustrating that they're asking for help/making you feel guilty if you don't help, but then doing nothing to streamline the process so that they could get as high a turnout as possible. I'm sure that if someone like me (who is usually very involved) isn't volunteering because of this issue, there are tons of other parents who also aren't signing up, even though they would otherwise.

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#19 of 64 Old 09-10-2009, 02:12 PM
 
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Not at all. We just arrange it with the teacher.
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#20 of 64 Old 09-10-2009, 04:49 PM
 
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What a timely post! Our school started requiring background checks and fingerprints this year. We were told we had to go to the district office to do this. I couldn't understand why forms couldn't be available at the school. Anyway, today I decided to get it done. But I can't find the district office! I found the address in the phone book, but the street was unfamiliar and wasn't listed on the map. So I googled the district's website. No address was given on the website. I finally found a pdf map buried deep on the site, and thought I knew where I was going. (It was an industrial area outside of town.) So this morning I spent 20 minutes driving around this industrial area and never did find the district office, even though I drove up and down the road it was supposed to be on from one dead end to the other.

I finally gave up and went home.
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#21 of 64 Old 09-10-2009, 04:59 PM
 
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It's been standard procedure in our county for at least 5 years that to do anything in the buildings other than drop off/pick up your child or come to meet the teacher or conferences you have to submit to a background check. : Honestly it's no big deal to me, and sometimes I wonder if they actually conduct the check because more than one of the parents that has volunteered has a questionable past.
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#22 of 64 Old 09-10-2009, 05:09 PM
 
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dd's school relies heavily on parent volunteers. No requirements at all!

We can also bring home baked goods, too. So overall, very relaxed.

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#23 of 64 Old 09-10-2009, 05:27 PM
 
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We have to fill out a form authorizing a background check, but that's it. If they asked me to run all over town like that, I probably wouldn't volunteer.
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#24 of 64 Old 09-10-2009, 05:27 PM
 
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...sometimes I wonder if they actually conduct the check because more than one of the parents that has volunteered has a questionable past.
Depending on what you mean by "questionable", it probably wouldn't matter. I think they're really looking for child abuse/pedophilia type stuff with requirements like this.

I hate them. We don't have them in the schools (wouldn't matter to me if they did at this point, as the younger ones are homeschooling, and I really can't find any way to help out at the high school), but we had them with Cub Scouts. DH was a leader, and I was the group's Treasurer and Registrar. The checks were a PITA.

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#25 of 64 Old 09-10-2009, 05:39 PM
 
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^^ what exactly do they do for a background check?
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#26 of 64 Old 09-10-2009, 05:41 PM
 
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I don't think the background checks are a PITA at all, at least not here. You fill out a form, they send it to the cops, they check you out and you're cleared or not.

Then you have to watch the "never ever touch a student" video and your home free.
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#27 of 64 Old 09-10-2009, 05:49 PM
 
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^^ what exactly do they do for a background check?
Probably a CORI.

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#28 of 64 Old 09-10-2009, 05:52 PM
 
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nak

OP not only do we have to do what you mntioned, we also have to take a class on how to be a volunteer.

I am a county employee, I work for the county school district and can work in any school in any district in my county. My first assignment was a student at my sons school. I was at this exact school for weeks and was allowed to be completely alone with any kid, but particularly special needs kids. I however have to jump threw hoops to grade papers in the class. I can totally see why parents don't do it. Oh and that is at a cost of $75. I have to pay. And to top it off, my oldest goes to a different district school and I have to do the same for his school, but they wont share the same information so I have to do the finger printing twice, but both schools are in the same county that I work for and both districts request me (or my co workers) to come and impliment behavior plans, but I can't help out. It is such a pain.
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#29 of 64 Old 09-10-2009, 05:53 PM
 
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^^ what exactly do they do for a background check?
They give you a form, and then you fill it out and take it to the police station. I think dh had to be fingerprinted, but I can't remember for sure. I didn't get the same check, because I wasn't working directly with the kids. Then, they turn the form into the Scouts headquarters and you wait to hear if you passed.

Maybe it's not that big a hassle for some people, but dh and I didn't drive. Fitting it in was a hassle.

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#30 of 64 Old 09-10-2009, 06:15 PM
 
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just a CORI check here.... once it's on file you're good to go like pp's though I have lo's at home soI try to do at home things to help out and/or donate supplies since it's hard for me to actually get to go help out in class.

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