The Rapidian

Involved parents vs regular school volunteer: What's the difference?

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Parental involvement is very important inside and outside of school. Volunteering has multiple duties and an extensive application process to ensure the safety of GRPS students.

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Rules and Procedures

For more information about the district’s volunteer rules and procedures, you can review the District Policy 9230. The full list of GRPS policies and rules are also available.

The Involved Parent

Parental involvement is essential to a child’s success. Research proves that students whose parents are actively engaged in their education are more motivated, have higher attendance rates, participate more in class, are more likely to complete homework, and are more likely to do better academically in school.

There are many simple and productive ways for parents to positively influence their child’s performance and behavior at school and at home. Basic parent involvement includes, but is not limited to:

  • Visiting your child’s classroom
  • Helping at athletic events
  • Reviewing and checking homework on a daily basis
  • Attending parent-teacher conferences, Parent Nights, and other regular school activities
  • Attending extracurricular, athletic, and other school activities
  • Helping in the school office
  • Spending one on one time with a child talking about school
  • Ensuring your child gets enough sleep, exercise, and a nutritious breakfast each day
  • Frequently praising your child for effort as well as achievements
  • Maintaining contact and open communication with your child’s teacher and principal
  • Providing books, maps, globes, dictionaries, and other reference materials at home
  • Participating in and assisting with parent workshops and other activities offered for parents, families, and children
  • Serving on the school’s Parent Teacher Association or Parent Advisory Committee
  • Volunteering to help in the classroom, on field trips, or other school activities your child may be involved in

It is important to note that there is a big difference between basic parent involvement and a parent becoming a regular school volunteer where they may be involved directly with children other than their own without the benefit of staff supervision. Parents have a right to be involved in their individual child’s education. However, when a parent becomes a regular volunteer, they are also involved with children in the classroom or school other than their own. This is why the Grand Rapids Board of Education has established policies and procedures regarding regular volunteering.

The Regular Volunteer

A “regular volunteer” as defined by the District in accordance with the Grand Rapids Board of Education’s Volunteer Policy (#9230) is:

  1. A volunteer who volunteers regularly in the District. “Regularly” is defined to mean that the volunteer assignment requires an individual to be in school or on school property or affiliated with a school program at least once per week or two or more times per month for two months or more (please note: there is no limit on how often a parent can come to school to interact with his/her own child; the restriction applies only to volunteer assignments);
  2. Any volunteer assignment which requires a volunteer to have direct one-on-one contact with students without the direct involvement or supervision of school district personnel; or
  3. Any volunteer who will be responsible for taking students off site.

In order to ensure the safety and well being of all GRPS students, the Grand Rapids Board of Education policy #9230 requires that all volunteers are “appropriately screened” with a “criminal background check.” The results are strictly confidential.

If the results of the criminal background check reveal that an individual has been convicted of a felony or certain misdemeanors, then they are not allowed to become a regular, certified volunteer. However, those individuals may still be able to volunteer if they file an appeal and can demonstrate that they can safely volunteer in GRPS schools.

Individuals who have been denied as a volunteer may file a written appeal within 60 days of receipt of the volunteer denial notice. The written appeal is submitted to Mr. Larry Johnson, Exec. Dir. of Public Safety and School Security (Grand Rapids Public Schools, P.O. Box 117, Grand Rapids, MI 49501-0117). Appeals will be determined by a committee of individuals appointed by the Superintendent and will be responded to, in writing, within 60 days of the appeal receipt.

As can be expected, student safety is a top priority for the district. Even though some parents may not be eligible to be regular volunteers, they are welcomed, encouraged, and have the right to remain actively involved in their child’s education.

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