News & Resources

Virginia county gets proactive toward volunteer screenings

Aug 24, 2011 Matt Roesly

Augusta County, Virginia, schools are adopting a stricter background check policy in response to an incident that occurred in a neighboring town, the News Leader reports. According to WHSV-TV, a volunteer member of Bessie Weller Elementary School's watch dog program in Staunton was found to have prior drug convictions on his record. This finding forced the school to shut down until stronger screening safeguards were put in place. The News Leader reports that Augusta County is being proactive, hoping to curb any incidents before they occur. "The situation in Staunton got us thinking," superintendent Chuck Bishop told the media outlet. "That could happen to us." School board chairman Nicolas Collins concurred. "In this day in age you can never be too careful," he said. "Even as careful as we tend to be you can't always have every angle covered but we do the best we can to protect our students." Volunteers will be required to list experience, availability and criminal background prior to being allowed on school grounds. Their applications will be checked against the sex offender registry, with final hiring decisions based on the length of time since a conviction.