Change To Volunteer Screening Policy Questioned

A possible change to the San Diego Unified School District's policy regarding volunteer screening has some parents worried.

As a mother of five, Christine Rodriguez thinks safety should come first.

"It's scary. They're in the business of taking care of children, and I think parents when they take them to school they think they're doing everything they can to keep them safe," said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez said she is in favor of the school district's proposed policy to screen and fingerprint school volunteers.

"It's about time; there's no excuse why not," said Rodriguez.

Right now, SDUSD looks closely at employees, but volunteers are not as scrutinized.

Now, the district is considering changing its policy, and background checks might soon be required for volunteers.

The school district did not provide the details of how the new policy would work, but 10News found out it costs about $15 to $25 for each background check.

Now the question is who is going to pay for it.

In a previous interview with 10News, a spokesman for the district admitted there's a problem, saying, "The policy is old … we need to address it …"

This year alone, there have been two school volunteers accused of crimes against children:

  • Vincent Greco, a volunteer music band leader for the San Diego School for Creative and Performing Arts
  • Cari Vander Schuit, a volunteer for the Parent-Teacher Association at Vista Grande Elementary School.

    For Rodriguez, it's one incident too many and she said someone needs to stand up for the children.

    "We should do everything we can; they're helpless, they don't know any better," said Rodriguez.

    There are more than 26,000 volunteers in the district.

    At $25 per volunteer, it would cost $650,000 to screen all of them.

    Rodriguez is worried some volunteers won't have the money to pay for it if asked.

    "Any time you introduce an expense of any kind there's going to be an impact on volunteers. It's definitely going to impact our volunteer workforce for sure," said Rodriguez.

    It's a small price Rodriguez said she would pay for some peace of mind.