The Beaufort County School District has begun conducting annual background checks on all volunteers through an enhanced screening process. The district also has improved the protocols within its volunteer program to ensure a consistent approach at every school.
The district has contracted with Background Investigation Bureau (BIB) to conduct nationwide screenings on all volunteer applicants and to notify schools and applicants on search results. The service costs $20 per screening, and annual costs are expected to be around $40,000.
“Our goal is to create a learning environment that’s safe for our students,” said Superintendent Jeffrey Moss. “We value our volunteers and want to make sure they are the right fit for our schools.”
The district estimates that 1,500-2,000 volunteers will apply for the upcoming school year, and both new and current volunteers will be screened under the new process. Each approved volunteer will have a badge, which will be required along with a photo ID when entering a school. The badge expires after one year.
For screening purposes, a volunteer is described as having direct contact with students under limited supervision or spending short periods of time with students outside of staff view. In order to become a volunteer, applicants must complete an online form, obtain approval from BIB and the district, and participate in orientation and training.
“This new process will enhance our screening efforts, it will make procedures consistent in all schools, and it will improve communication between the schools and the district office,” said Alice Walton, Chief Administrative and Human Resources Officer. “When we all work together — teachers, staff and volunteers — our students reap the benefits.”
The district is encouraging both current and prospective volunteers to fill out the application on the district website.