Volunteers and the duties they perform are essential to any school district. With the reduction in school budgets, volunteers are needed now more than ever. However, it is important to recognize the risks.
There are two major risks involving volunteers: First, the volunteer might get injured; second, the volunteer might do something that will get the district sued. It is important for school leaders to be diligent in managing a volunteer work force. While you don’t want to turn off potential volunteers with overly extensive screening, a thorough process demonstrates the district’s commitment to protecting itself, its students and the volunteers.
Kentucky law requires an annual criminal records check on any school volunteer. This includes teachers’ aides, coaches, tutors, food service aides and front-office volunteers. School volunteers should always be required to sign in at the front office and wear identification badges identifying their volunteer status. Volunteers should not be in a supervisory position, but be under the supervision of district administrators.
It is also important to remember that because these volunteers are in school buildings, they must be trained on lockdown provisions and emergency procedures, as well as any safety precautions they should follow to assure their own safety.
Volunteers can be a great resource and become advocates for a school. But school leaders must be sure they are managing the risk of having them.
If you have any questions concerning liability issues regarding school volunteers, contact one of KSBIT’s loss control specialists.
— By Joe Isaacs, KSBIT loss control specialist. For more information, contact your KSBIT loss control representative at 1-800-876-4552.