Parents say volunteer screening is unfair

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Individuals with a felony conviction are not allowed to be in-school volunteers in Grand Rapids Public Schools, a policy that some parents say is unfairly distancing them from their children's education, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

A group of parents distributed petitions at a recent open house at Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Academy asking the school board to reconsider, The Press reported. Grand Rapids parents with felony records can attend parent/teacher conferences, but otherwise are not allowed inside a school without being escorted by a principal, according to The Press.

While the petitioners agree that convicted sex offenders should not be allowed to volunteer, they object to the same ban for such offenses as writing a bad check at any time in the past.

Officials in other districts told The Press that they consider the circumstances of each case, such as the type of crime and when it was committed, and that they may limit the type of volunteer service open to parents with felony convictions, but not rule it out.

A local church has offered to help non-violent offenders pay the legal cost of having their records expunged, the report said.


The Grand Rapids Press, "Parents with felony convictions want to volunteer at Grand Rapids school," Sept. 15, 2010


Michigan Education Digest, "Superintendent: Teacher behavior 'deplorable,'" Oct. 16, 2009