The possibility of requiring background checks for all volunteers and employees of Joint Challis School District No. 181 came up again at the board’s September meeting.
Trustees should authorize Superintendent Lani Rembelski to update the district’s policy, Board Chairman Brett Plummer said. The board has recommended that volunteers pass a law enforcement background check, Rembelski said, which includes fingerprinting and a check for criminal history. The problem is it takes between three and six weeks to get background checks completed, school district Clerk Kim Williams said and coaches and volunteers often need to start their duties sooner.
Not all school districts require background checks for volunteers, Rembelski said, as long as they are not working alone with children. Sometimes parents work with their own children under a teacher’s supervision in the classroom and are allowed to be alone with their kids.
The district cannot allow any convicted sex offenders to be around students, Plummer said.
The school district does some of its own background checking, Rembelski said, by going online to check the state’s sexual offender registry and the Idaho Judicial Repository for information on applicants to be coaches and volunteers. It’s tough enough to get volunteers with or without background checks, Athletic Director Jennifer Piva said. The district faces the background check dilemma every year, Williams said. Potential substitute teachers who want to earn some money don’t want to wait for a background check before starting work, “so we lose them.”
“I think substitutes and volunteers need to have background checks,” Rembelski said. When hiring experienced Idaho teachers, the district can check the Idaho Department of Education’s personnel files.
The board accepted employee recommendations from administrators. Former teacher Katena Swank, who retired last year, was approved as a contract special education coordinator to oversee special ed teacher Laura Hunt at the high school and two paraprofessionals — Karen Bennett at Challis Elementary and Jamie Hardy at the high school.
Ed and Lori Gregory and Kristi Ellis were approved as Challis Elementary student council advisers, while Barb Thomas was approved as high school student council adviser and Beth Millick approved for the junior high. Piva was approved to be high school yearbook adviser. Rebecca Auwen and Alton Arnold were approved as envirothon advisers. Damon Burk was approved as junior high football coach, Jackie Ingram as a science mentor and Jade Straub was hired as a custodian.
Custer County Coalition has moved its office from the district’s middle school building to the office building behind Challis Area Health Center that was the Challis ambulance shed, Plummer said. Rose Cheff, the coalition’s executive director, asked the district to store the group’s drunk driving carts. The carts are used to educate students about the dangers of drinking and driving. Board members did not object to storing the carts.