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Pleasantville Schools Debate Fingerprinting Volunteers

PLEASANTVLLE, N.Y. – Better safe than sorry.

That is the thinking for the Pleasantville Union Free School District, which may soon require that its volunteers are fingerprinted.

Background checks are currently run on all full-time and part-time employees, but Schools Superintendent Mary Fox-Alter is hoping to expand the policy.

“Our goal is to get everyone alone with a child to go through a background check,” she said.

She said the fingerprint checks would not be for every volunteer who helps with school activities, just for volunteers who are in chaperone positions, such as at school plays and on field trips.

If the district cannot find a volunteer for an event who has been through a background check, Fox-Alter said, it may have to pay teachers or administrators to act as chaperones.

“If you don’t take that step to cover any possible eventuality, you don’t want to end up regretting that,” said school board President Lois Winkler.

Fox-Alter said volunteers would have to pay for the fingerprinting themselves, as teachers and other school employees typically do.

Board member Shane McGaffey said he understands taking precautions but would prefer that volunteers not have to pay.

“I just feel bad about charging people who are willing to give their time,” he said.

After-school activities that are not school-related, such as soccer teams using the fields, would not be subject to the background checks, Fox-Alter said.

School district attorney Margo May will look over the paperwork and bring a final policy to the board for review later.

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