February 14, 2016

Background checks may be required for school volunteers

Corbin H. Crable

Proposed changes to USD 231’s volunteer handbook have raised concerns among at least one member of the Board of Education.

USD 231 Finance Director Eric Hansen, at the board’s Nov. 15 regular meeting, distributed notes from a Nov. 9 Finance Committee meeting. Those notes included a copy of the Beaverton (Ore.) School District Volunteer Handbook, on which board members could base the district’s own handbook.
Suggested areas of discussion included training volunteers on how to handle injuries they may incur while working. Hansen, in his notes, reminded committee members that volunteers would not be covered by Workman’s

Compensation and as such, their own medical insurance would need to be used to cover treatment for the injury.

Another issue Hansen raised involved advocating background checks for all volunteers within USD 231. Board member Mary Herbert said she believes, however, that conducting such checks would be unnecessary for certain volunteer demographics.

“I wonder if this will actually push people away,” Herbert said. “For moms, grandmas, grandpas – I think it’s a little much.”

Hansen said he understood Herbert’s concerns, but that the guideline would be in place for everyone’s safety.

“But when you’re talking about background checks for volunteers, that bothers me,” Herbert responded. “I wouldn’t think the rules would apply to everybody.”

Finance Committee members have been given the task of reviewing the Beaverton handbook before the committee’s Dec. 7 meeting and to bring suggestions for changes, deletions or submissions regarding USD 231’s own handbook.

In other business, the board:

•  Joined Superintendent Dr. Bill Gilhaus in recognizing nine second-quarter Students of Character, including fourth-grader Nicole Gary of Edgerton Elementary, third-grader Rachel Rutherford of Gardner Elementary, second-grader Lindsey Bolen of Madison Elementary, third-grader Makinley Eaton of Moonlight Elementary, third-grader Trevor Layng of Nike Elementary, fourth-grader Logan Whitlow of Sunflower Elementary, eighth-grader Carson Hobby of Pioneer Ridge Middle School, sixth-grader Bryson Rohr of Wheatridge Middle School and junior Kyle Christine of Gardner Edgerton High School.

•  Joined Superintendent Dr. Bill Gilhaus in recognizing Pioneer Ridge Middle School Principal Lachelle Sigg as being named the Exemplary Principal of the Year by the Kansas Administrators of Middle Schools Association.
The Board of Education will next meet at 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 13, at the USD 231 business offices, 231 E. Madison St. in Gardner.


  1. I believe any and all people working or doing volunteer work in our schools should have a background check done on them and for good reason – you will be protecting the students, fellow volunteers, district employees and the taxpayers.

    I do question what happens if a volunteer is hurt while on school premises and gross negligence or even negligence is found on the part of the school district.

  2. I completely agree with Judith.

    Any and all individuals volunteering or working with and around children should have a background check. This does not mean things will not happen it means only if someone has a record it will show. For me as a parent ages ranging between 18 and 1 years of age if you have a problem taking a background check to be around our children then I would not want you around mine. I understand when young somethings happen, DUI’s etc… but child abuse, neglect, assault, endangerment etc… I want checked!!!!

  3. Several years ago they allowed people to start carrying concealed guns here in Kansas. I am not a gun fan – just plain don’t like them. I look at world statistics such as in Britain and their crime rate the last I checked was much lower since guns were not allowed.

    Regardless, when this law came into effect here in Kansas it was being considered that all citizens who applied for a license and received it should be listed on the internet along with their address. Well, the outcry came from the “packers” and that did not get done. I was fully in favor of it because if my children were small or even older, I would want to know if the house I was letting my children visit had guns, then I would think twice about it – I would prefer the kids play at my house where there would be no guns. Myself I want to know who is packing heat and if certain circumstances arise when I am around one of these persons and the situation is getting out of hand, I can get out out of there and protect myself and my family.

    Another controversial subject just like getting patted down at the airports now but I think all need to think long and hard about what is involved – protection for yourself and your loved ones.

  4. We recently moved to Kansas and were amazed that we did not have to have back ground checks to volunteer at our child’s school. This has been the practice at his other schools (including pre-school) and do not see any harm in it. If you want to be around our children, then let the school run a yearly back ground check on you to make sure everyone is safe. Any amount of paper work is worth keeping our kids safe.

  5. I think everyone needs to remember that having a background check isn’t a solution, it’s only going to show abusers that have been CAUGHT! So it almost gives a false sense of security. I believe that is why for the most part volunteers are not alone with children. Don’t get me wrong I don’t have a problem volunteering or having a background check but most of the time people volunteer at schools it’s because they have a vested intrest in the school not just some stranger off the streets that no one knows and having a background check on them isn’t going to prove that they are a safe person to be around. Sick people hurt kids all the time and are not caught so you just never know. You have to trust that the school is a safe place and that they have precautions in place to protect all children while in their care, background check or not.

  6. We all are aware that everything is not quiet on the Western front. Every day you open the paper to another scandel to tell you that things are NOT as they appear they are – I still say all people in these days should operate and live under the mantra of trust but VERIFY. And then when the trust has been broken several times, you shift to no trust whatsoever and verify, verify, verify, verify……….

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