Contact Kathy Jackson at email@example.com or call 314-953-5190.
Click here to download the Superintendent Updated Volunteer Letter Oct 12, 2019 pdf.
Legislative Update: Screened Volunteers
October 3, 2019
As you are aware, a number of education-related provisions were debated by the General Assembly last session. When the session ended and the dust settled, approximately twenty-five (25) education-related provisions had been approved by the Missouri Legislature. Recently, a few of our members have expressed confusion regarding one of those provisions.
The confusion stems from a provision which deals with school volunteers, specifically "screened volunteers." Pursuant to Section 168.133 in HB 604, a screened volunteer is "any person who assists a school by providing uncompensated service and who may periodically be left alone with students." Section 168.133 goes on to state that, "[t]he school district shall ensure that a criminal background check is conducted for all screened volunteers, who shall complete a criminal background check prior to being left alone with a student." And, "[v]olunteers that are not screened shall not be left alone with a student or have access to student records."
Upon its passage, it was believed that any background check would suffice to meet this requirement (e.g., a $13-14 records check). As a result, this change in the law was seen as largely noncontroversial as many school districts around the state were already conducting some form of a background check on their volunteers. Unfortunately, that no longer appears to be the case. Instead, it appears that Section 168.133 requires screened volunteers to undergo a fingerprint background check.
The reason for this determination is that existing statutory text contained within Section 168.133 states that, "[i]n order to facilitate the criminal history background check, the applicant shall submit a set of fingerprints collected pursuant to standards determined by the Missouri highway patrol." At the time of its passage, it was believed this existing language pertained only to personnel. However, that is not the case as it is now being interpreted to pertain to volunteers as well.
Obviously, a fingerprint check is more involved and costlier. The likely result from this change is that fewer individuals will volunteer their time. And, that is incredibly unfortunate.
As a reminder, please bear in mind that screened volunteers are only those volunteers who may be left alone with students. Thus, if a school district knows that a volunteer will not be left alone with students, no legal requirement exists for the district to have the volunteer undergo a fingerprint background check. Also, please know that there is no legal requirement for the district to pay for the fingerprint background check and, thus, costs of the fingerprint background check can be passed on to the volunteer.
Because this change is a stark departure from previous operations, we recommend that you contact your policy provider and your district's legal counsel to discuss this change in greater detail. You may also contact our office if you have additional questions or concerns.
Legislators That Represent A Portion of Your School District:
Gina Walsh (D) Phone: 573-751-2420
Brian Williams (D) Phone: 573-751-4106
Tommie Pierson Jr. (D) Phone: 573-751-6845
Alan Green (D) Phone: 573-751-2135
Jay Mosley (D) Phone: 573-751-9628
Gretchen Bangert (D) Phone: 573-751-5365
Paula Brown (D) Phone: 573-751-4163
Raychel Proudie (D) Phone: 573-751-0855
Cora Faith Walker (D) Phone: 573-751-4726
Alan Gray (D) Phone: 573-751-5538