Pelham BOE approves revised background check policy

PELHAM – The Pelham Board of Education unanimously approved changes to their background check policy that originally required all parents and visitors participating in school day activities to pass a criminal background check.

The board also unanimously approved a policy regarding a visitor management system that will be installed in schools during the summer before the 2017-2018 school year.

Both policies take effect in July, prior to the start of the new school year.

In November 2016, the revised version of the policy was posted on Pelham City Schools’ website for public review. At the school board meeting, held Monday, Jan. 30, Superintendent Scott Coefield said the district received 16 responses from the public.

The only thing different from the background check policy posted online for review and the policy approved at the Jan. 24 meeting is that the language is more specific about what types of convictions the school board in on the lookout for. Coefield said the approved policy specifically states that the school is checking for felony convictions.

Although background checks will no longer be needed for those wanting to eat lunch with students, background checks will still be required for anyone who volunteers at a school, chaperones or assists in any other activity that requires the supervision of students. Parents would be responsible for covering the cost of the background check, which is $15.

A visitor management system will be in place to check each visitor’s name against the National Sex Offender Registry upon entering the schools. When visiting a school, IDs will be scanned or names will be manually entered into the visitor management system and the National Sex Offender Registry will be checked.

The system will print out a visitor badge with the visitor’s destination on it and produce a visitor database. Pelham City Schools will cover the costs associated with installing the system in each school.

Exemptions would include widely attended school events where large groups are entering a school at one time and it may not be feasible to use the management system.

The policy lays out guidelines for lunchtime visitors, such as notifying the school by 9 a.m. whenever they plan to visit for lunch. Principals would have the authority to cancel any or all lunch visits based on any issues they feel could impact their ability to provide the proper learning environment.

The original background check policy will remain in effect until the end of the school year. Each school will schedule monthly lunch dates that will allow visitors to attend school lunches without having to pay $15 for a criminal background check.

In other business, the board:

 

-Approved band concerts/competitions for the Tower of Power marching band in Kennesaw, Georgia on Feb. 10; in Franklin, Tennessee on Feb. 18; in Columbia, Tennessee on March 18; and in Bowling Green, Kentucky on April 1.

-Approved the baseball team to travel to Cocoa, Florida from March 26 to March 30 for a baseball tournament.

-Approved a contract with Milene Panzica to provide services for adult literacy, tutoring, parenting, translating and interpreting. All services are related to the LEAP Program.

-Approved the revision of the Bus Driver Field Trip Pay policy.

-Approved the revision of policy 6.1.2.e, regarding required documentation for entering students to include foster care students. The revisions are state mandated.

-Reviewed policy 3.10.7 Administrative Cell Phone, which deals with administrative personnel being able to use their personal cell phones for work-related business.