The Bethel Park School District strongly encourages the involvement of parents and guardians in our schools. Pennsylvania State Law (Act 15) now requires that every volunteer who has direct contact with students to have the necessary clearances on file with the District.
Below is a list of frequently asked questions about the Volunteer Clearance Process.
Do all volunteers need to have clearances?
All volunteers who have direct contact
with students are required to have background clearances. The State's Keep Kids Safe website
defines Direct Contact as "the care, supervision, guidance or control of children or routine interaction with children."
The Bethel Park School District requires any volunteer who works events/activities such as Field Trips, Classroom Parties, Book Fairs, Music Trips, and Interscholastic Competitions where they are supervising, guiding, controlling, and interacting directly with students to have clearances.
What if I am only visiting a school as a spectator? Do I need clearances?
All school-sponsored events where parents/grandparents, etc. are attending with their own child, and they are NOT supervising, guiding, or controlling other children, would NOT be required to have clearances. In these types of events, the parent is attending as an audience member. Examples include Talent Shows, Special Person's Breakfasts, Dismissal Times, Open Houses, as well as attending events and performances as spectators.
What if I only volunteer one time a year? Do I still need clearances?
If you have direct contact with children you must have all of the clearances, regardless of the number of hours or the frequency of your volunteer participation.
Why does the Bethel Park School District require volunteers to get clearances?
Pennsylvania Law requires it and it is the District's duty to uphold the law as well as protect its students.
Why are three different clearances required?
Each clearance request searches a unique database of records. The PA clearances for child abuse and criminal records are held in two different state databases, while the Federal clearance checks criminal history through a national database.
How long will it take to get my clearances?
You can usually obtain all three clearances within two weeks after you have submitted everything necessary. However, we encourage you not to wait until two weeks before your first volunteer event to apply for the clearances, as volunteers across Pennsylvania will be applying for these clearances and there might be a backlog.
What if I have clearances from volunteering for other organizations?
The District will accept the clearances, provided they are not more than three years old from the date of submission. The clearances will expire when the oldest of the submitted clearances is more than three years old.
How often will I have to update my clearances?
You will have to submit updated clearances every five years from the date of your oldest clearance.
Is there a way to waive the Federal Criminal History Record Check?
The new state law permits the District to waive a volunteer's need to obtain the Federal Criminal History Record Check (FBI Fingerprinting) ONLY if certain requirements are met. Please click here
to download the waiver and learn more about the waiver requirements.
What else do I have to submit to the District besides the three clearances?
You will have to complete and sign the Acknowledgment of Volunteer Obligations
, declaring that if you are arrested or convicted of a Disqualifying Offense (see list below) or named as a perpetrator in a founded or indicated report, you must provide written notification of this to the District's Superintendent's Office no later than 72 hours after the arrest, conviction or notification. Please click here
to download the Acknowledgement of Volunteer Obligations.
What if I am not truthful about disclosing prior arrests or notifying the District of a subsequent arrest?
The statute makes the failure to disclose information a misdemeanor of the third degree.
What kind of offenses would preclude someone from being permitted to have unsupervised, direct contact with students?
The Disqualifying Offenses listed in Section 111 of the Pennsylvania School Code include criminal homicide, aggravated assault, stalking, kidnapping, unlawful restraint, luring a child into a motor vehicle or structure, rape, statutory sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, institutional sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault, indecent exposure, sexual intercourse with an animal, incest, concealing the death of a child, endangering the welfare of children, dealing in infant children, prostitution, obscene and other sexual materials and performances, corruption of minors, sexual abuse of children, unlawful contact with a minor, solicitation of minors to traffic drugs, sexual exploitation of children and certain drug offenses.
What should I do once I get all my clearances?
- Once you have received ALL THREE clearances (or two, plus the waiver if you are eligible for that), please email them along with the Acknowledgement of Volunteer Obligations and a copy of your driver's license to Mary Beth Gregg at [email protected].
*Volunteers MUST be approved by Central Administration and issued a Qualified Volunteer Card to be eligible to volunteer. Please do not take your clearances to the schools.
- Your clearances will be reviewed for the District's files. Your name will be added to a School and Central Database of Volunteers who have submitted all clearances and paperwork.
- The photo that you submit will be used to create a plastic Qualified Volunteer ID Card. You will need to present/wear this card every time you are volunteering. The card, once created, will be sent to the school of your choice to be picked up when you volunteer. Please bring this card with you to school EVERY TIME you volunteer and show it to the school secretary when you sign in. If you lose your Volunteer ID Card, replacement cards are $5.
Who do I talk to if I'm unsure of whether I need clearances?
You should speak with your child's principal, who will be able to qualify whether your participation/attendance is Direct Contact with students.
What if obtaining the clearances would place a financial hardship on my family?
If paying for the clearances would be a financial hardship for you, please speak to your building principal. All conversations will be kept confidential.