Windham Public Schools encourages families to be engaged with our schools, and volunteering is a valuable form of engagement. When parents, guardians, grandparents and community members can assist in the library, in a classroom or chaperoning a field trip, our students and staff benefit from volunteers.
Our students must work and learn in a safe environment, however, and there are strict guidelines about qualifying volunteers. The current policy for Windham Public Schools was approved December 20, 2016 following the new State of Connecticut guidelines which state that any parent volunteering in the school district must have some level of background check in order to work with students in any capacity. The current policy designates volunteers in one of two categories.
Group I volunteers are those who would assist school staff while consistently in the presence of school staff. Volunteers at this level are required to complete a record check by the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to ensure that the potential volunteer is not listed on the Abuse and Neglect Registry.
Group II volunteers are those who may be expected to spend time alone with students while they engage in an activity such as a field trip. Volunteers in this group are required to undergo the DCF record check, and also undergo a criminal background check by being fingerprinted.
It is the responsibility of the building principal and administrative staff to review each opportunity for school volunteers, designate what level volunteers will be needed in each case, and ensure that the proper procedures are followed. At any time the Superintendent can require that volunteers undergo the highest level of background check based on a specific event, activity or any other circumstances.
The district, in cooperation with each school and school parent organization, has provided limited resources to assist parent who do not have the means to pay for fingerprinting but who are eager to serve as a volunteer. In most cases cost should not be a barrier to volunteering. However, the cost to execute a background check must not be a barrier to consistent implementation of the policy.