Urbana lifts fingerprint rules for many school volunteers

Urbana lifts fingerprint rules for many school volunteers

URBANA — Those interested in becoming student tutors or supervised volunteers at Urbana schools will no longer have to go through a fingerprint background check before working with students.

By unanimous vote Tuesday night, the Urbana school board approved an update to its volunteer background screening policy to mirror that of Champaign schools and many other districts in the area. Only the volunteers who have "direct, regular and unsupervised contact with students" will be required to go through a fingerprint background check, according to the district's assistant superintendent of human resources and professional development, Kathy Barbour. All new employees will still be fingerprinted as well.

The change will most directly affect University of Illinois and Parkland College students who want to tutor at Urbana schools, as well as other volunteers who work with kids on a strictly supervised basis. Those people will have to submit their name and social security number to an outside vendor, which will then conduct an online name check of several national databases for criminal history, motor vehicle records and other background information.

Barbour said the online check is more "accurate, efficient, requires no appointment and produces a 24-hour turnaround," which will attract more student volunteers and those who don't have time to make the fingerprinting appointments. The new policy will also be a big cost saver.

Since 2008, the district has paid for all volunteers to go through an in-house fingerprint background check at the cost of $50 for each person. Through the contract it approved Tuesday with Bushue Human Resources — the same company that services Unit 4 schools — online name checks will cost the district $8 per volunteer. Bushue will also take over all fingerprinting for Urbana, at $52 per person, which means the district will no longer have to lease its own digital fingerprinting device, according to Superintendent Don Owen.

If the district does name checks instead of fingerprinting on 400 tutors this year, it will save $13,000, according to Barbour.

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