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Belgrade parent concerned over school's background check policy

By Katherine Mozzone, KTVM Reporter, kmozzone@ktvm.com
Published On: Apr 10 2013 07:16:09 PM MDT
Updated On: Apr 12 2013 10:52:19 AM MDT
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

Belgrade resident Richard Bell is a father of two, four-year-old Oliver and six-year-old Stella.

"Beautiful, curly red hair...She skips rope just about constantly... and she's just a sweetheart. I would do anything to protect her," says Bell.

It's why he says he was concerned when a day care attendant told him a parent volunteer at Heck Quaw Elementary was holding his daughter's hand and asking for hugs.

"I think it's totally inappropriate. I don't know this individual. I don't know anything about him," says Bell.

Bell says he was upset to learn the volunteer didn't have to have a background check. He says the checks would not only give the school more information about who these volunteers are, but also ensure Stella is safe.

"I think anybody that's working in the building with the children should have a background check. I mean, most jobs require them. I mean, you need one just to work at a convenient store anymore," explains Bell.

Folks with the Belgrade School District say background checks are required for all school employees from teachers to chefs in the cafeteria. They say background checks are not, however, required for volunteers but leaders with the school say those volunteers are always under teacher supervision.

"How important is that supervision?" I asked.
"Very important," says Lubansky. "Volunteers are never left alone with children," she says.

Belgrade Schools Superintendent Candy Lubansky says parent volunteers are an asset and often volunteer in their own child's classroom. Yet, she tells me she doesn't believe background checks are necessary for volunteers.

"I think background checks really become important if a position, a volunteer or an employee is ever in a position to be alone with a child or children," explains Lubansky.

I asked Lubansky about the situation between Stella and the volunteer. She told me she investigated right away.

"I think it's a misperception about intention and, certainly, when queried, the adults in the room said, 'I was there. There was nothing to be concerned about,'" says Lubanksy.

Bells tells me the parent is no longer a volunteer at the school.

Both Bell and Lubansky stressed that the volunteer did not break any laws and Lubansky says she believes the volunteer did absolutely nothing wrong.

Lubansky says, if you ever have any concerns about your child, please contact her or your school's principal right away.