Volunteers cost Wake schools money

October 19, 2010 11:50:52 AM PDT
This school year, every person who wants to volunteer in a Wake County school has to undergo a criminal records check.

In years past, the check only applied to certain volunteers depending on the level of involvement they had with students.

So far this school year, Wake has checked and approved 28,983 volunteers. As of Tuesday, there are more than 6,400 people whose applications are pending.

The system Wake uses provides nightly updates on each volunteer that has been processed.

"The only way we had to gauge whether some volunteers were safe to be around students or not is if they’re honest with us," said Stephen Gainey, Assistant Superintendent for Human Relations. "Once we did a check on some of them, you would not believe what we found."

The additional measures have cost Wake more than $140,000 to date. That’s twice the amount Wake spent last year conducting checks.

"The additional safety is worth the price," Gainey said.

He also explained that now all volunteers who are cleared have the same level of clearance to work with students which makes it easier on principals who no longer have to remember to what extent a certain volunteer could work with students.

Wake was flooded with volunteer applications from July 1 - October 5 according to Gainey. He said another application window will open in December and in late March.

In the meantime, anyone who wants to volunteer can apply directly at their school’s principal’s office. Once the principal gives the okay their application is forwarded on for a criminal records check.

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