BVSD updates for requirements of volunteers
Piper Salvator, Staff Reporter
September 24, 2011
Filed under News
Today’s world has perhaps proved more dangerous for students than ever before. Recent harassment and assault situations such as the Travis Masse sexual assault case at Broomfield High School in 2010 have motivated Boulder Valley School District to crack down on policies, especially regarding volunteers.
Former Broomfield High School wrestling coach Travis Masse was sentenced to life in prison for sexually assaulting a female student. She is married and lives in Florida now, and she testified against Masse as a 17-year-old student in his history classes and manager of the wrestling team he coached. She reported her sexual relationship with Masse to the police because she believed it unfair to Masse’s wife and family. The victim was in a vulnerable place when Masse pursued her, as her brother had just killed himself, and Masse only used that to his advantage.
“Masse preyed on young, vulnerable girls at the school, sending them thousands of sexually graphic messages, and had sex with one of them.” This is just one example of the not only unsafe, but also disturbing situations that many students could be subject to without proper safety measures enforced.
To prevent these types of situations from arising, BVSD has established stricter policies for all volunteers working at any Boulder Valley School. According to Melissa Werner, volunteer coordinator for the Fairview High School Booster Store and IB store volunteer, “BVSD is requiring volunteers to fill out a “volunteer form” before working at the school. Based on how much time you spend at the school, “face time” with students, etc. they may ask for a more thorough background check that would cost the volunteer money.
When a volunteer goes into school he/she is supposed to check in at the office to get a visitor’s pass- which has always been the case. The add-on is that administrators will look to make sure the volunteer’s name is on file with a completed form. Initially, they do a basic background check to make sure volunteers are not criminals or sex offenders.
The potential for this “more thorough background check” is a cause for concern with some volunteers as the prices may be steep. “The impact to the volunteer would be the $16 TClogiQ background, $39.50 to BVSD to process fingerprints and then the fingerprint fee that police agencies charge to do the fingerprints($7-$12).”
Mike Reetz, FPO coordinator believes that BVSD does not “have a full understanding about how many volunteers they actually use at schools like Fairview that make the school run like it does. So, they are overwhelmed with the number of people who need to go through this process and the process obviously is not built with those numbers in mind.” Another negative aspect to the volunteer policies is the fact that some of them are too hard to enforce, and therefore, do not provide the necessary protection to the students.
For example, Werner has found that “there is not always someone in the front office when a person signs in to get their visitor’s pass. People walk in without being questioned. So [she] does not think that this policy is going to actually help protect students because they are unable to enforce it.”
These holes in the volunteering policies, like the background check, do not turn off parents from volunteering at Fairview, though, as most “People who want to volunteer are usually parents who have been doing it for years. This extra step isn’t going to stop them.” The prices of the background checks are trivial compared to the over $9,000 that Fairview would have to pay to cover the checks for all volunteers. These extra steps are simply a result of “some of the events that we read about in the papers and hear and see on TV where students are assaulted, etc. by parents, friends, etc,” and are necessary to protect all students throughout BVSD.