School Volunteer Policy In Question

By: Summer Knowles
By: Summer Knowles

August 24, 2005

Some local parents are expressing concerns about a school policy regarding volunteers.

Colleen Bryner has two daughters in the Charlottesville school system and has been pleased with community involvement in her kids' schools.

That is why she was concerned to hear that the school system does background checks on all of its employees, but none of its volunteers.

"There's basically two types of volunteers I think, those that are there with good intentions and then the one that maybe isn't there with a good intention," Bryner explained.

City school officials say they do not have the money or the man power to do background checks on volunteers, and even if they did, they do not feel it is necessary.

"We encourage them to come in. These people have given up their own time to spend time with children, and we do not do background checks on these people because we don't want to discourage it," said Robert Thompson, the Acting Superintendent for Charlottesville schools.

Albemarle County schools have the same policy. "We're very confident that we have the level of supervision and expertise that we would like to have with our volunteers in every classroom situation with a child," says Chris Dyer, the Community Engagement Director for Albemarle County Schools.

Even though they value volunteers in schools, for a lot of parents, its an issue of safety. "If my child is coming to the school, I feel that everybody that comes into the school teaching or volunteering should have a CRC done," said parent Duane Johnson.

Surrounding counties have the same policy, and share the same views as the city and county schools.

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