New Albany News

Revamped security policy affects visitors, volunteers

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

The New Albany-Plain Local School District's new volunteer and visitor policy went into effect Dec. 2.

The policy requires background checks for volunteers and new security procedures for visitors.

"We're trying to transition the process with parents in the buildings," district spokesman Patrick Gallaway said.

All volunteers working in kindergarten to fifth grade now must complete a background check.

Volunteers working in the middle and high schools must complete a background check if they might work with students unsupervised, such as on a field trip, in a club or other activity or as a coach, according to district officials.

Gallaway said volunteers currently would not be turned away from their work if they are awaiting a background check, but they must do it soon.

Gallaway said the background checks must be completed between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. at the district's administrative office, 55 N. High St. He said they take little time to complete.

Volunteers must bring photo identification and fill out some paperwork. The district is funding the $24 cost of the background checks, which are completed by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation for people who have lived in the state for five years and by the FBI for anyone who has not lived in Ohio for five years, according to district officials.

Donations to defray the cost will be accepted, district officials said.

Background checks are valid for five years, said Michael Sawyers, the district's chief of operations and strategic planning.

As for the new security procedures, all visitors now are required to show photo identification before entering a school building, Gallaway said.

"This system is a little bit more enhanced and produces a badge that (the visitor) will wear for that day and is valid for a 24-hour period," he said. "After a 24-hour period, the badge changes and says it no longer is a valid pass."

Gallaway said visitors are not required to call before coming to a school unless there is an event that generates a lot of visitors, such as a classroom party.

"They do not necessarily need to call ahead," Gallaway said. "The main point with that is when having classroom parties, we need to know ahead of time how many are coming because we could have five parents per classroom.

"We need to know who's coming and are asking for (parents') patience as their IDs are checked as they come in."

Gallaway also said parents stopping by to eat lunch with their child need not call ahead.