Monday, February 18, 2008

Albany schools propose tighter security checks for volunteers

By Kathleen Richards
Mon, Feb 18, 2008 at 6:35 PM

Perhaps taking a cue from Oakland, Albany public schools are considering more comprehensive screening - including tuberculosis tests, fingerprinting, and background checks - of its volunteers, according to an AP story published in the Chronicle. The policy, which is still be worked on, came about in light of two incidences: one, in which a volunteer track coach apparently become too close to a team member and her family, and was subsequently barred; another involved a wrestling coach volunteer who was accused and arrested of having sex with boys.

Such background checks, though seemingly well-intentioned, came under fire by Oakland school parents last fall after OUSD officials ramped up their measures to fingerprint their volunteers. Parents complained that the $75 annual cost detracted would-be helpers, and it appeared the policy was not uniformly enforced, nor were volunteers accurately kept track of. What types of offenses would be deemed inappropriate for volunteerism also weren't revealed.

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