The issue of background checks is under the microscope in one area of Pennsylvania. It involves the local PTA.
Parents are discovering that a background check is required before joining the PTA. This seems to be a growing trend for schools in the area. Currently, a background check is not required by every area school district for volunteer opportunities, yet more and more schools are requiring a background check a requirement for volunteering.
The PTA (Parent Teacher Association) at one elementary school pushed for the background check requirement, which was instituted this year.
Potential PTA members are required to have the background check done by the same system used by the Pennsylvania State Police. They also must provide proof of the results to the PTA or pay a fee to the PTA to have the PTA run the background check through the system.
The principal at one elementary school says the changes in procedure is to ensure the safety of the children and to increase the comfort level of parents, especially when it comes to volunteer activities. The Pennsylvania Department of Education’s website states that current Pennsylvania state law only requires background checks for volunteers at charter school. This current law does not require background checks for volunteers in other public and private schools. Individual schools are allowed to institute policies that go beyond what is enforced by state law.
Different school districts have different requirements. Some of the school districts in the area base the background check requirement on whether the volunteer would spend an extended amount of time with students without the presence of a district employee.
It all underscores the need and value of quality background checks. Pre-employment screening should include a background check. It helps protect the employer, co-workers and the potential employee. It can also be important on the volunteer level.