CLINTON, Ind. (WTHI) - A new school year for students means new gear and new friends, but for parents wanting to participate in their pupil's lives - there's a new paper trail to follow. It's a process to keep people with a criminal history out of school.
Background checks on parents have made their way back into the news now that back to school time is here, and one Valley school district we visited has been doing these checks for years.
For the Sanquenetti's, this upcoming school year is a milestone!
"We're starting middle school for the first time, so we're going to meet a whole new staff of teachers and a whole new building!" said Heather Sanquenetti.
Heather is among countless parents and kids who made their way to South Vermillion Middle School to register for the 2013-2014 school year. Inside their registration packets this year, Heather and all parents found something some parents might not expect... a personal background check form to fill out.
"We make all of our parents fill out a background check if they would like to come to the special events we have at school," said John Scioldo, Van Duyn Elementary's principal and South Vermillion's School Safety Specialist. "So we're talking about plays, field trips, anything where you are going to be in close proximity to the students."
For instance, if a parent has a violent criminal history, or if a parent has a drug dealing conviction on their record, the school will not allow them to volunteer at school functions where kids will be close.
"We've turned away parents that I know that have no problems at all. But if they that check out form, we don't let them in," Scioldo said. "My mom came for my son's party, and I ran a background check on her."
While this may sound like a tough stance by south vermillion schools, it's one that they say is heavily supported by its parents... including Heather.
"I absolutely encourage them and think everyone should have to pass to get into the school building," Heather said.
Here's what happens to the forms once they're filled out. The school secretaries are responsible for running the checks under the supervision of the principal. Each school has access to the Indiana State Police background check system. South Vermillion asks parents to fill out forms now at the beginning of the year, but no later than one week to the event you would like to attend. Forms are available at your child's school and in your registration packets.
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