SCHOOL SAFETY: Volunteer Background Checks

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Teaching kids most of her life; Sue Irish says she’s learned a lot.

Irish says, “It just was a lot of practice on how to do this teaching thing.”
Now retired, she still finds her way into the classroom. Irish says, “Oh, it’s so rewarding.”

Volunteering at Hillis she helps first graders with their reading. Irish says, “It’s a skill everybody is going to need for life.”

But volunteers will soon have to give the Des Moines public school district more than their time. Irish says, “I thought it was about time.”

The district is doing background checks on all its volunteers costing the district an estimated $15 per volunteer.

Des Moines Public Schools District’s Phil Roeder says, “It was a small cost to pay in order to just provide that additional assurance for people, both parents and teachers.”

After the first background check volunteers are put on an honor system. This would require them to report any crimes they committed in the future to the school. A policy district volunteer coordinator Eric Whitney says may change in the future. Whitney says, “We’ll learn from it we’ll see what we get back.”

Irish says the extra paperwork is worth it when you see the difference you can make in a child’s life. Irish says, “It’s rewarding. I go out of there just filled with happiness for the day.”