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Background Checks for Volunteers

Keeping Students Safe

RSD is committed to providing students with a safe educational environment. We are also required by law to complete criminal background check for every volunteer. Volunteer applicants must be screened using an approved criminal background check methods prior to beginning service.

Every year family and community volunteers serve in RSD schools. Our volunteer background check requirements are shaped by:

  • RSD risk management and volunteer insurance policy with the Washington Schools Risk Management Pool,
  • RCW 43.43.830 – Background checks—Access to children or vulnerable persons
  • RCW 28A.400.303 - Record Checks for Employees, Certain Volunteers and Contractors - Cost

and are reflected in Policy No. 5005 and Procedure 5005PR.

Background Check Levels

We utilize two background check levels:

  • State background checks are free and apply to over 90% of Category A volunteers.
  • Online out-of-state background checks usually cost $21 and are used for some Category A volunteers and all Category B volunteers.

A. State background check

If you have lived in Washington State for the past three (3) years, we will use the Washington State Patrol’s database known as WATCH to run your background check (no action is needed on your end). Normally, those background checks cost $11 each, however Washington State makes them available to schools (and non-profits) at no charge.

B. National background check

The following circumstances require a one-time, $21 national background check:

  • Volunteer applicant has lived in the U.S. for the past three (3) years, including in states outside Washington*.
  • Volunteer will regularly work with students while unsupervised regardless of how long the volunteer has resided in Washington State (Category B school or remote volunteers).
  • All sports volunteer applicants**.
  • Overnight field trip chaperones if the field trip is longer than 3 days.
  • Volunteer applicant resides in another state (national background check required every two years) *

* Volunteers who reside in another state must complete a new national background check every two years.

C. Volunteers who recently returned to or arrived in the U.S.

If you lived abroad in the past three (3) years and have a social security number, you will need to purchase a one-time international background check ($31 fee) instead of the national background check.

Why is there a fee for background checks?

Unfortunately, WATCH does not provide criminal records from other states, and unlike Washington State, the federal government does not provide schools with free screening tools. 

  • A man convicted of child abuse in Oregon applies to tutor RSD students at Republic Elementary School.
  • Mom of a 4th grader volunteers as a field trip driver. Two years ago, she was convicted of a DUI in California.

Both volunteer applicants would easily pass the WATCH background check.

Background check affordability

Every parent or caretaker should have the opportunity to participate in their student’s education.

  • Schools can cover background check fees for low-income families using operating or program budgets, request PTA assistance or seek grant/private funds for this purpose. Field trip related background check fees can be covered through the trip budget.
  • If the background check fee is causing financial hardship for you, please contact your school office and ask if they set a budget for volunteer background checks. If so, please have them contact the Volunteer Services Program Administrator to set up a free background check for you.

Confidentiality

Volunteer applications and background checks are confidential. Each school principal designates a volunteer program liaison to process them.

Thank you for helping us create a safe educational environment!