Parent volunteers play an integral part in keeping schools and youth athletic organizations up and running within budget. Without this very important population, our children would likely miss out on many opportunities. These days, however, most schools and youth sports associations require volunteers to go through a background check before being allowed to work with children. These regulations have some parents in an uproar, feeling that they have to jump through too many hoops, when all they want to do is help out. The truth of the matter is, these background checks are vital in protecting our children and ensuring that dangerous criminals don’t have access to them.
Background checks allow schools and youth organizations the ability to determine if the people that come forth to volunteer pose any potential risk to our children. While some parents feel that these checks are a violation of their privacy or that they are time consuming, most understand that it is a necessary part of the process.
What Can Happen?
What can happen if a school or organization doesn’t perform a background check? Here are some examples of why it is imperative that schools and youth organizations have a proper and thorough background check process:
In early 2016 the Monroe Public School District in Michigan failed to background check a volunteer. Though the school system had processed more 1,100 background checks in the same year, one man somehow slipped through the cracks and was allowed to volunteer at Custer Elementary School in Monroe, Michigan before a background check was done.
When a background check was finally done on this man, it turned out that he was a sex offender who happened to have a child that attended the elementary school. The man’s name was not released in an effort to protect the child’s identity.
In Allendale Public School district, recurring volunteers are only checked every five years and only checked state records. While this may seem acceptable to some, keep in mind that state records only show state offenses. The Allendale school system found this out after the Berrien County Courthouse shooter who killed two court bailiffs and injured a deputy while being escorted to court. The shooter, identified as Larry Gordon, was facing several charges including kidnapping, felony criminal sexual conduct and obstructing police. He was also a classroom volunteer at an elementary school in Watervliet, Michigan.
In Gordon’s case, there had been a recent background check run, however; only a state background check was run. This meant that his federal crimes were not shown at the time of the background check. This case has prompted Michigan Senator Rick Jones to propose legislation to have mandatory fingerprinting for school volunteers.
In 2014, there wasn’t any law in the state of Kansas that required youth sports leagues to obtain background checks on coaches. In August, 2014 Arthur Sheltrown, an assistant coach with the Topeka Storm Girls Softball organization, was arrested and charged with Aggravated Indecent Liberties With a Child — Lewd Fondling a Child 14 to 16 Years Old Without Consent.
An Adams Elementary School volunteer was arrested in Cleburne, Texas in 2014 for solicitation of a minor. After her arrest, it was found that the school’s background check failed to reveal a conviction that the woman had in 2011 for manufacturing and delivering of a controlled substance. The revelation prompted the school to review its background check process to ensure this type of error doesn’t happen again.
Schools are not the only place where children need to be protected. Across the United States there are thousands of youth sports leagues which are typically coached by an all-volunteer staff. These volunteers spend many hours each week with children and it is vital that proper background checks are done in these situations as well.
Athletic Business, a company which produces an online magazine for athletic organizations, reported recently that “of the 10,436 profiles submitted by municipalities last year to the National Recreation and Park Association’s TLC2 volunteer-screening program, nearly one in 10 people were found to have criminal records.” Let me repeat that, one in ten background checks turned up a criminal record. If that statistic isn’t disturbing enough, it also reported that of those background checks that revealed criminal behavior, almost 40% of them contained “disqualifying offenses” which includes drug and alcohol convictions, sex crimes, violence and other various charges.
Children are one of our most valuable and vulnerable assets. We need to protect them any way we can. Background checks are one of our most trusted means of safe-guarding our children from dangerous criminals. SB Checks is a trusted background check company. Its professionals have more than 30 years combined experience in ensuring that background checks are done right the first time. Call (888) 725-2535 for a free consultation to discuss what background check services are right for your organization.