Bill Would Require Background Checks for School Volunteers
With the new school year starting, legislation Assembly members L. Grace Spencer, Ralph Caputo, Annette Quijano and Caridad Rodriguez are sponsoring would require background checks for school volunteers.
“This is common sense,” said Spencer (D-Essex). “If we protect our children by providing background checks for paid staff, we should provide the same protections for volunteers. Schools do a great job of protecting our children, but we know predators try to work themselves into situations involving children, so this extra protection is the smart approach.”
“By far, most school volunteers are dedicated parents and members of our communities, but we know not everyone has the best intentions,” said Caputo (D-Essex). “This extra line of protection for our children is the right thing to do.”
The bill (A-1019) would require any individual who volunteers to provide service on an unpaid basis in a public school district to undergo a criminal history background check in accordance with the same standards and procedures used to conduct such checks on paid school district employees.
“With schools being forced to do more with less, the need for volunteers is even greater,” said Quijano (D-Union). “This is all the more reason why we need to put these protections in place to ensure that our children are in the best of hands.”
“I’m sure the majority of people who volunteer to help out in our school systems are motivated by good will,” said Rodriguez (D-Hudson). “But when it comes to our children it is always more prudent to err on the side of caution.”
Under current law a school district may choose to conduct background checks on volunteers and if it does so then the district must bear the cost of the check. Under this bill, the volunteer would bear the cost of the check.
The bill passed the Assembly 74-2-1 in June and has now been referred to the Senate Education Committee.