More Controversy on Background Checks and School Volunteers

Seems like we are in a world fraught with controversy. It would be natural what with the economy in a tailspin and crime a growing concern. This is especially true when convicted felons are volunteering to help out at schools. Frankly, people change and there is something endearing about someone who fouled up their earlier life but now has become a reputable citizen and parent and wants to contribute to his children's efforts at the school. More people should give their time as that would go a long way toward improving our public school system.

However, for every well meaning person, convicted felon or not, there is the recidivist, the predator who unfortunately views the school volunteer program as the happy hunting ground where he can ply the very practices that first put him on the sex offenders list. Which is why schools do need to conduct background checks, and then once they do review them carefully. There should not, however, be a blanket policy where convicted felons are banned from volunteer work. Likie just about everything else, there are shades of gray.

Citizens of some cities seem less affected by their volunteers being subjected to background checks Apparently, in the City of Abilene, Texas, a survey revealed that most agreed with the processing of all school volunteers through the background screening system. In other places, there is more rancor with people complaining that they should not be eternally punished or participating with their children for ancient transgressions. Like I say, there is logic to this belief.

Recently the Shenandoah Valley News Leader reported that the Watch D.O.G.S. Program that puts fathers in the local school classrooms has been temporarily suspended until background checks can be conducted on school volunteers. The acronym stands for Dads of Great Students. There has been a complaint, apparently, that one volunteer had a criminal record. The conviction was some thirteen years ago. There were assault and battery charges, drug charges, and a firearms charge. Some were dismissed, and some were not. There were no sexual offenses.

While this is not technically an employment situation, we all have concerns about our children and students at large and who serves them as volunteers. Hopefully, the school boards will find a happy medium between those who have erred in the past and cleaned up their acts so they are no productive and responsible citizens, and those who may pose a danger to students and school staff alike.

Check them out before you hire.

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