Rules changing

The Warren County School District will have two separate classifications of volunteers this year and the requirements are different for each.

As a result of a policy change adopted by the school board late last year, those looking to provide service to their communities through the district will fall into different categories depending on the duties they take on, and will need to be aware of the requirements they will face as the school year approaches.

According to district policy, the two volunteer categories include:

“Volunteers who will be alone with students with no direct supervision by district staff for extended periods of time, including but not limited to athletic coaches associated with interscholastic teams on a regular basis, cheerleading volunteers, band volunteers/ assistants/ aides, and overnight chaperones.”

Volunteers who, “Perform long-term continuous service for the district but who are rarely alone with students due to the nature of their service and/or due to the supervision by district personnel or supervisors on site, including but not limited to room parents, classroom helpers, PTO officers, and office assistants; or perform short-term, sporadic service for the district or who assist with one-day events and who are under the direct supervision of district personnel, including but not limited to dance chaperones, volunteers for the concession stand, and volunteers who assist with picture day, field day, intramurals, one – day field trips, activities and holiday events.”

According to District Superintendent Dr. William Clark, “The one is for those working directly with kids and, obviously, has more layers.”

All volunteers are required to fill out a volunteer application form, available through the district’s website, and, if they interact with students whether supervised or unsupervised, a valid tuberculosis test is required.

Those volunteers who will be alone with students with no direct supervision face additional requirements. They must have valid Act 34, criminal record check, Act 151, Pennsylvania child abuse history, and FBI clearances. They must also comply with any additional requirements proscribed by law for individuals working with children.

“My understanding,” Clark said, “is most districts have done this to add an extra layer of protection and to ensure the safety and well-being of kids.”

According to district policy, volunteers are responsible for paying for and obtaining any required clearances or immunizations unless a specific program’s budget allows for reimbursement.

Volunteers must be approved by the school board, or, in cases of emergency, the superintendent.