Lodinews.com

default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
|
||
Logout|My Dashboard

Reese parents want tougher screening for school volunteers

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Monday, August 19, 2002 10:00 pm

A group of Reese Elementary School parents has asked Lodi Unified School District officials to require all adult volunteers be fingerprinted in order to insure student safety.

The district adopted a fingerprinting policy in June, requiring certain adults who work closely with children to undergo background checks.

Parents and community helpers who volunteer once a week in the classroom are exempted from the screening.

Reese parent Michelle Hughes hopes to close what she considers the policy's loophole which could allow a sex offender to still work with children.

"They came down with a policy, but it doesn't cover the board 100 percent," said Hughes, a mother of two children who's spearheading the effort.

The district's fingerprinting policy is an open invitation to sex offenders looking to skirt the requirements, she said.

Under the current policy, volunteers who work directly with students two or more days a week, work alone with children or participate on overnight field trips are required to be fingerprinted.

Almost 60 of the 500 volunteers expected to be screened have undergone the background checks so far, said Len Casanega, assistant superintendent of personnel.

The district researched other district policies and talked with law enforcement in developing the fingerprinting policy, he said.

The policy was developed to protect children from abuse by fingerprinting volunteers who are alone with students and who frequently spend time with children, Casanega said.

Student safety, costs and retaining volunteers were discussed in drafting the policy. "We tried to strike a middle ground," he said.

The new policy has received mixed reaction from parents and classroom helpers - some calling for a tighter policy while others questioning the purpose for the requirement, Casanega said.

Hughes, who recently took her concerns to the school board, said it doesn't take long for children to develop trust with the adult volunteers, which is why the tighter policy is needed.

She illustrates her point by telling about a girl who actively seeks her out on campus to give her a hug.

"I worked only one day a week last year," she said.

Given the recent child abductions and killings, schools should be one of the safest places for children, Hughes said. Lodi Unified officials plan to revisit the policy mid-school year and see whether changes need to be made, Casanega said.

Hughes and other parents believe the district could do more, including issuing volunteer photo badges.

Hughes received a photo badge after undergoing a similar background check as a volunteer coach for the Lodi Parks and Recreation Department.

The city began fingerprinting all volunteers and city employees last August. More than 1,000 people have been screened since starting the new requirement, though costs were not available.

"If the Parks and Rec can do it, why can't Lodi Unified?" Hughes asked.

Costs could hamper broadening the policy, district officials said.

The fingerprinting policy is estimated to cost about $21,000 yearly or $42 per volunteer, Casanega said.

The district is getting its own Livescan system to fingerprint volunteers, which would slightly reduce the costs, Casanega said.

It also is looking to train an employee on making identification badges, he said.

Trustee Harvey Robins, who cast the lone vote against the fingerprinting policy, agreed all volunteers working with children should be screened.

"It didn't make sense to me to not include volunteers who have contact with children once a week," he said.

Robins said the policy was long overdue and was pleased several other trustees agreed with Hughes' concerns.

"Perhaps hearing it from a parent and not a board member makes a difference," he said.


Comments about this story? Send mail to the News-Sentinel newsroom.

SUBSCRIBE TO THE LODI NEWS-SENTINEL

To subscribe to the Lodi News-Sentinel, fill out our online form or call our Subscriber Services Department at (209) 333-1400.

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Use your real name. You must register with your full first and last name before you can comment. (And don’t pretend you’re someone else.)
  • 2 Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language.
  • 3 Don’t threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
  • 4 Be truthful. Don't lie about anyone or anything. Don't post unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or gossip that could harm the reputation of a person, company or organization.
  • 5 Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 6 Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are about the story. Don’t insult each other.
  • 7 Tell us if the discussion is getting out of hand. Use the ‘Report’ link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 8 Share what you know, and ask about what you don't.
  • 9 Don’t be a troll.
  • 10 Don’t reveal personal information about other commenters. You may reveal your own personal information, but we advise you not to do so.
  • 11 We reserve the right, at our discretion, to monitor, delete or choose not to post any comment. This may include removing or monitoring posts that we believe violate the spirit or letter of these rules, or that we otherwise determine at our discretion needs to be monitored, not posted, or deleted.

Welcome to the discussion.

Readers Choice Awards 2014
City of Lodi Leaf Pickup Schedule

Video

Popular Stories

Poll

Loading…

Your News

News for the community, by the community.

Mailing List

Subscribe to a mailing list to have daily news sent directly to your inbox.

  • Breaking News

    Would you like to receive breaking news alerts? Sign up now!

  • News Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily news headlines? Sign up now!

  • Sports Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily sports headlines? Sign up now!

Manage Your Lists