Cranston Schools Consider Policy to Require BCI Checks for All Volunteers

The Cranston School Committee will be considering a new policy to mandate background checks for all Cranston school volunteers, the result of a subcommittee which has been meeting since September of 2008. The policy will be voted on at two consecutive School Committee meetings. Recently I emailed school committee member Andrea Iannazzi with some questions about the pending policy.

Kiersten Marek: How will this be implemented?

Andrea Iannazzi: The policy is available at Policies take two consecutive votes (without amendments) to pass the School Committee. This policy will be enacted 30 days after passage (to allow for time for background checks).

Kiersten Marek: Will current volunteers all need to go through the screening?

Andrea Iannazzi: Yes, all volunteers will need to go through the screening.

Kiersten Marek: Will they not be allowed to continue if they do not get screened?

Andrea Iannazzi: Yes, the policy mandates background checks for volunteers.

Kiersten Marek: How long will they be given to get the screen?

However long they’d like. There is a thirty day period until the policy is enacted. However, no one will be allowed to volunteer until they have
submitted a background check.

We have tried to make it as user friendly as possible. The application is part of the policy. A prospective volunteer can fill out the application and hand everything in to Human Resources at Briggs. Cranston Public Schools will take care of the rest (getting the check, forwarding results, etc.).

Kiersten Marek: Will fingerprinting be required? Will the background check need to be repeated periodically?

Andrea Iannazzi: Fingerprinting is only required for those who have not lived in RI for at least a year.

Volunteers would only need to get a background check once.

Kiersten Marek: Who will the funds be given to for administering the background checks?

Andrea Iannazzi: We have set aside $2500 in “Safe Schools” funding. CPS will pay the
Attorney General’s Office for those needing assistance (until the $2500 is spent).

Kiersten Marek: What criminal charges will make a person ineligible to volunteer in the schools (obviously any sexual offender status, but are there other charges that will be included?)

Andrea Iannazzi: This is determined by State law and includes child molestation, sexual assault, murder, manslaughter, robbery, arson, felony drug charges, etc. See RIGL § 23-17-37,§§ 11-37-8.1 and 11-37-8.3.

Kiersten Marek: What about parents who volunteer in the schools through their PTO? Will they also need to have a BCI on file?

Andrea Iannazzi: Yes, everyone must submit a BCI check. The only exceptions are listed in the policy… “This Policy may not apply to parents observing classrooms, guest speakers, performers, student mentors who are enrolled in Cranston Public Schools, truancy court personnel, newspaper reporters, vendors for school related
items such as rings, yearbooks, delivery vendors, and alike, provided they are accompanied by the Superintendent or school personnel.”

This policy is the result of a SubCommittee that I chaired. The Committee consisted of Jane Wall (Parent, Woodridge), Pam Schiff (Parent- Park View), Peter Nero (Assistant Superintendent), Dr. Laura Albanese (Principal- Stone Hill), David Alba (Principal- Glen Hills), Donna Tocco Greenaway (School Committee- later replaced by Frank Lombardi), and myself. We began meeting in September of 2008.

Kiersten Marek: Thanks, Andrea. This policy will be discussed at tonight’s school committee meeting, taking place at 7 pm.


7 thoughts on “Cranston Schools Consider Policy to Require BCI Checks for All Volunteers

  1. This is certainly a worthwhile policy. My only question is why the school department needed eight months and a committee to propose the policy — when every for-profit and nonprofit childcare provider and baseball league in the city already have it? (Youth baseball coaches must pass a BCI check to coach.)

    Once again, the school board reinvented the wheel — where are the eight months’ of study on, I don’t know, reducing school costs?!

  2. Every time I apply for a job in health care I have to undergo a BCI check. most of the time my employers pay for it, but once I had to pay and it was $5, and I think I went to the Attorney General’s office on S.Main St., but they took my application and it was very easy.
    Once the information from the BCI is received, the potential employer decides whether the results indicate that the applicant is a bad bet for the job.
    My experience is that BCI check does not create a barrier to qualified applicants. A spotless record is not always mandatory, but if the applicant has a history of problems with people, that is better sorted out before the hire happens.

  3. I think there has been some opposition to this proposal, which may be the reason for the 8 month study to figure out a way to make it acceptable for most.

    My son isn’t in the CPS yet, but I would be more than willing to submit to a BCI and hope that all parents will as well.

  4. My wife and I volunteer on a regular basis at our daughter’s school Garden City Elementary, and would gladly submit to a BCI. If this proposed policy change prevents just ONE child from being abducted, abused or compromised, the “hassle” of submitting to a BCI would be well worth it and I trust that I am not alone on this one.

  5. I sit on the Board of Directors of the Rhode Island Mentoring Partnership. We have nearly 3000 mentors throughout the state, each of whom had to undergo an BCI check. Depending on the nature of the mentoring relationship, a mentor may have undergo both the state and fed checks.

    One of my concerns is about people moving in from out-of-state. It w/b possible for someone to have a record elsewhere but escape detection in RI. The fed background check uncover people flying under the local radar. The problem is that it more than doubles the cost.

    However, that said, I can’t recall anyone who wanted to be a mentor refusing to take a BCI. It’s a condition of participation in the program and is accepted as such. I would assume the same with volunteers in the Cranston school system.

  6. I fully support this. Why would anyone hesitate especially seeing Andrea has secured funding for those that are unable to pay the small fee.

    Some have confided stating that this is not the total answer. Well, this may be not be ….however, it certainly is an additional way of screening some out and possibly preventing anything. However, the only clear confidence I have is that I teach my children from day one that there are seemingly safe people out there, but unless I have vetted them, they are not to go ANYWHERE ALONE with anyone …especially so, if they know the person but feel funny for whatever reason.

    It may be fractional in the amount of folks it will ban, however, that’s enough for my vote.

    BTW, kudos to BOD Rhode Island Mentoring Partnership that ALL sumbit to this testing!

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