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New London-Spicer School Board considers background check policy for all volunteers

NEW LONDON -- The New London-Spicer School Board approved Monday the first reading of an updated policy on background checks for district volunteers, for athletic or academic events.

The proposed changes to the policy include that all volunteers, regardless of whether or not they receive compensation from the district, would be required to submit to a background check conducted by the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, according to Superintendent Paul Carlson.

"All of our volunteer coaches would need background checks (under the policy)," he said, adding that the district would also ask the volunteers to pay the $15 cost. "This could be difficult, because we are making them pay for volunteering."

However, school districts across the state have unknowingly had volunteers who had inappropriate behavior toward children in their past, working with students, he added.

The district's previous policy has been not to conduct background checks on volunteers because they are most often with another adult or teacher, either in the classroom, on trips or at events, Carlson added.

During discussion Monday at the regular meeting, board member Michael O'Brien suggested that the board consider ad-ding background ch-ecks th-rough the National Cr-ime Information Center on volunteers who come to the district from out of state, as the BCA checks would include only Minnesota information.

The background check policy is scheduled for its second reading and more discussion at the May 11 school board meeting.

In other action Monday, the board:

- Failed to pass a motion adding June 5 to the school calendar as a student contact day. Carlson had recommended that the day be changed from a teacher work day to a student contact day to make up for the third snow day declared this winter by the district. The failure of the motion leaves the school calendar as is, with the last student day on Thursday, June 4, and with a teacher work day on Friday, June 5.

- Passed a motion seeking sealed bids for the home built by the district's agriculture structures class. The bids, a minimum of $74,500, are sought for the 1,632-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath home built by students and will be opened on May 21.