There have been many questions about the Board of Education’s policy regarding fingerprinting. For reference, here is a letter sent out on October 20, 2014 from Superintendent Gary Mala:
October 20, 2014
Dear Parents, Staff and Concerned Citizens:
I hope this message finds you well as we approach the end of October. The purpose of my message is to clarify the district’s procedure with respect to parent/resident volunteers in your schools, more specifically, the process one must follow to be approved as a volunteer.
Approximately two years ago the district began the practice that volunteers be fingerprinted should they participate in an activity that would leave them as the only individual supervising a group of students (field trip, recess monitors etc.) for any extended period of time without any direct and/or indirect supervision from a staff person. This practice is identical to what is required for every person employed and/or contracted by the district.
In the case of volunteers who are the only party responsible for the supervision of a group of students without the assistance of a staff person, fingerprinting is required for a number of reasons including but not limited to the following:
- The liability and accident insurances cover the volunteers as if they were district “employees.” The processing of a volunteer as described above qualifies the individual(s) to be protected from any legal claims as are all other district employees.
- Volunteers acting under the supervision of a teacher and/or a group of teachers (book room, library media center volunteers, room mothers, copy center etc.) do not need to be fingerprinted given that they are not left as the primary person responsible for the supervision of students.
- The district is able to provide notice to those who question our hiring practices, including the use of volunteers, contractors and vendors, which all individuals for whom the district is responsible at any point in time are properly cleared pursuant to all applicable state laws.
Additionally, the following points are offered to those who have raised questions through their PTO officers, building administrators or through members of the Board of Education or Central Administration:
- Once fingerprinted, an individual does not to have them done each year. It is incumbent upon the district to maintain a record of the cleared prints and monitor any changes as appropriate.
- Fingerprinting may be done at the Avon Police Department and or through a vendor that is contracted by the districts at various intervals during the school year.
- The fingerprints are kept confidential in the district’s business office files and are treated as confidential personnel records.
- This practice is similar to that which is in place in numerous public school districts in our state (e.g. Simsbury) and beyond and is not intended to discourage individuals to volunteer in our schools. The practice is designed to maintain the standard that is articulated clearly in state law – those who have contact with children must be properly screened (paraphrased).
- This practice is by no means intended to communicate a message of distrust, rather, it is in place to protect you as volunteers, whom we very much appreciate, from any potential claims.
Thank you for your understanding as we continue to maintain practices to provide for the safety of all students and those who serve to meet their needs each day.
Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at (860) 404-4700 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I look forward to communicating with you again very soon and thank you for the continued opportunity to serve you and your children.
Enjoy a productive week.
Very truly yours,
Gary S. Mala
Superintendent of Schools
Avon Public Schools