If you read in the CC Times article today, you'll see that Times writer, Theresa Harrington, wrote about something many of us already knew. The district fingerprinting process is in crisis. Personally, I've volunteered in this district for 10 years and have never been pressured to be fingerprinted. The article even notes that in supervised conditions (i.e. working in a classroom, library or on a field trip), you could volunteer without the need to fingerprint. It was only the "extended contact" volunteers that needed to be printed.
Perhaps among school sites, it was also a "don't ask , don't tell" policy? Not sure. But now, in the midst of the biggest education fiscal disaster ever, they are making it harder than ever for parents to volunteer.
The article notes that schools are having to actually cancel field trips as parents can not get fingerprinted in time. They are now said to be booking fingerprint appointments into February. Imagine that? Parents can not even accompany their own student(s) on a field trip where there is teacher supervision. Unbelieveable isn't it?
And, ummm, Greg Rolen, seriously? Did he really say this (courtesy of CCTimes)?
Greg Rolen, the district's general counsel, said the stricter rules help ensure the safety of students because the district now has criminal background checks done by the state Department of Justice for all volunteers. But he did not bring the changes to the board for a public discussion and said he was not sure what was causing the backlog.
So Mr. Rolen, on his own (?) , enacts a stricter policy, doesn't even bring it to the board and actually WONDERS why this is causing a backlog? I'm sorry, I do like Mr. Rolen... but this must have been taken out of context. Parents want to volunteer. Schools need volunteers. You've got what? Over 30,000 students? With what? Upwards of 40,000 parents and caregivers? And you didn't think that having a new STRICTER policy of fingerprinting would cause any kind of a backlog? It was already backlogged months last year. Did Mr. Rolen know that? Surely not all 40,000+ parents/caregivers will volunteer. But even if only 10% do, that is 4,000 volunteers to be printed. Assuming you can do 20 a day that is 40 weeks of just straight fingerprinting. 20 a day , 5 days a week. With holidays, summer, breaks, etc we don't even have 40 weeks in the year to staff such an effort. So I ask again, did Mr. Rolen really wonder what is causing the backlog?
So yes, my math is loose and messy. I may be exaggerating that we have 4,000 parents, caregivers and community members willing to volunteer (I hope not though given the size of our district). But, I think you get my gist.
For schools to have to cancel events, when these volunteers are not left unsupervised with the students, is what is "unacceptable."
Dr. Nicoll, the interim Superintendent, released this in a memo to management:
The backlog of volunteers waiting to be fingerprinted has reached unacceptable levels. Effective immediately, we will allow volunteers to assist at school subject to the following conditions:
-The volunteer must have passed a tuberculosis screening test.
-The volunteer must have an appointment to be fingerprinted. Volunteers failing to fulfill this obligation will not be allowed to continue.
-The volunteer must be under the supervision of a certificated employee at all times.
Volunteers who have not met these conditions may work in school classrooms, pods, or outside areas when supervised. Volunteers who drive students on a field trip, tutor students in locations where no staff is present, or have any individualized contact with students in an unsupervised setting must be fingerprinted prior to performing their service.
Dr. Nicoll continues and lets us know they are working on the possibility of the County Office of Education assisting in the fingerprinting efforts. They will let us know when/if that happens though it will be more expensive per the CCTimes article.
While this interim solution seems to be an effort to relieve the stresses at the school sites, but allowing more to volunteer.. who polices this? Do the school sites have to confirm with the district EACH and EVERY parent who wants to volunteer? Confirm they have an appointment scheduled? And confirm they have a clear TB test? Does the district send a list to each school site? How does a parent "prove" they have an appointment and clear tb? Maybe someone can shed light on this aspect.
So, to conclude, if you are a parent and wish to volunteer in your child's classroom, get an appointment right away to be fingerprinted. Contact the district at 682-8000, ext. 4153 . You must also complete the attached FORM (available in english and spanish) and bring it with you. You must also bring evidence of a clear TB test result done within 60 days of your fingerprint appointment. You must also bring exact cash, or money order for $32.00. Your TB results stay valid for 4 years, and your fingerprinting stays valid for the duration of your volunteering within the district.