TPSD simplifies volunteer background checks

By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The school district is tweaking its volunteer background check policies to make it easier for parents.
Under the proposed policy revision presented at Tuesday’s school board meeting, volunteers would submit to one initial criminal background check instead of annual checks.
The Tupelo Public School District would have the right to repeat volunteer background checks, but parents would only be asked to pay the $35 fee and complete the fingerprinting process once, said Assistant superintendent Diana Ezell. The revision will still meet state legal requirements.
“The cost annually was prohibitive for many families,” Ezell said. “We don’t want to exclude anyone unless they are dangerous to children.” Already, the district has consolidated the process to one office at the Fillmore Center, where parents will be able to complete paperwork, get fingerprinted and pay for the screening.
“We wanted to make it more convenient for parents,” who previously had to make three separate stops to complete the process, Ezell said.
The policy revision is set for board consideration at its next meeting July 19. However, parents who have not previously gone through the check don’t have to wait.
“If they do it now, it will be back in time for school,” Ezell said.
Volunteers who are tutoring or mentoring on campus, chaperoning field trips or acting in a capacity where they could be alone with students are asked to complete the background check, Ezell said. A background check is not required of those who are simply bringing treats for a class or reading or presenting to an entire classroom with teachers present.
Volunteers who went through the full criminal check, including fingerprinting, would not have to repeat the process.


Contact Michaela Gibson Morris at (662) 678-1599 or michaela.morris@journalinc.com.