School District Volunteers Face New Requirements
Major changes to the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Laws (“CPSL”) were enacted in recent years. While these important changes offer increased safeguards for Pennsylvania’s children, stakeholders across the Commonwealth are still working to understand the implications of this legislative overhaul in relation to mandatory reporting, background checks, and other child abuse related issues.
The deadline for at least one new requirement under the law is quickly approaching, and will significantly impact Pennsylvania school districts and parents. Act 153, which amended the CPSL, establishes new background clearance requirements for school district volunteers. School volunteers now must submit Pennsylvania State Police, FBI, and child abuse clearances prior to commencing service. Previously, only some school districts required these clearances.
Under the new law, existing volunteers who don’t have “current” clearances (i.e. those that are less than three years old) must obtain them by July 1st. New volunteers have been required to obtain these clearances since December 31, 2014. Going forward, school volunteers, employees and independent contractors are all required to submit updated clearances every three years.
Perhaps even more difficult than tracking the clearances required by the new law is determining who exactly qualifies as a school volunteer. We will answer that question in more detail and provide some insight in our next legal alert about whether an individual is a volunteer, regardless of whether they chaperone a field trip, help coach a team, or bring in holiday treats.
Eastburn and Gray’s Education and School Law practice group is carefully tracking new developments under the amended CPSL, and the implications for school districts, parents and stakeholders. If you have questions about this or other issues, please contact a member of the Education and School Law practice group.
Author: Erin N. Kernan