New regulations for school volunteers discussed in Avon Grove
● By Steven Hoffman
At the Jan. 8 school board meeting, Avon Grove superintendent Dr. Christopher Marchese and school board president Brian Gaerity talked about the need to clearly and effectively communicate the new state-mandated requirements for school volunteers that are aimed at protecting children.
In his superintendent’s report, Marchese said that anyone who works as a volunteer in the schools is now obligated by state law to report suspected child abuse.
The school board will be making the necessary revisions to its policies to reflect the changes that Pennsylvania has adopted regarding school volunteers. Some of these state-mandated requirements just took effect on Jan. 1.
The district posted the following guidelines on its website for “all substantial and limited contact school volunteers” who are now considered to be mandated reporters:
1. A mandated reporter shall immediately make an oral report of suspected child abuse to the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) via the statewide toll-free telephone number (1-800-932-0313) or a written report using electronic technologies. i.e. Website (www.compass.state.pa.us/cwis).
2. If an oral report is made, a mandated reporter shall also make a written report, which may be submitted electronically, within 48 hours to DHS or Chester County Department of Human Services in a manner and format prescribed by DHS.
The required report of suspected child abuse, which may be submitted electronically, is required to include the following information, if known:
1. The names and addresses of the child, the child's parents and any other person responsible for the child's welfare.
2. Where the suspected abuse occurred.
3. The age and sex of each subject of the report.
4. The nature and extent of the suspected child abuse, including any evidence of prior abuse to the child or any sibling of the child.
5. The name and relationship of each individual responsible for causing the suspected abuse and any evidence of prior abuse by each individual.
6. Family composition.
7. The source of the report.
8. The name, telephone number and e-mail address of the person making the report.
9. The actions taken by the person making the report, including those actions taken under section 6314 (relating to photographs, medical tests and X-rays of child subject to report), 6315 (relating to taking child into protective custody), 6316 (relating to admission to private and public hospitals) or 6317 (relating to mandatory reporting and postmortem investigation of deaths).
10. Any other information required by federal law or regulation.
11. Any other information that the department requires by regulation.
Additionally, the state has also instituted regulations for school volunteers to self-report arrests. School districts will now provide potential volunteers with a list of offenses during the background check application process.
If a volunteer is arrested or convicted of any of the offenses during the time that they are serving as a volunteer, he or she will be required to file an arrest or conviction report.
All volunteers, including those already approved to volunteer in schools, are required to complete an arrest/conviction certification form and submit it to the building principal for filing by July 1.