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Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner Makes It Easier for Families and Communities to Volunteer in Schools (11-13-18)

LOS ANGELES - Today, the Los Angeles Unified School District began to make it easier for families and community members to engage and volunteer at their local schools. Los Angeles Unified will eliminate the costly fees charged to volunteers for fingerprinting and background checks to become a volunteer and expand the number of locations where families and community members can sign up to volunteer.

Photo of Superintendent Austin Beutner speaking at a podium “Families and community members are essential to the success of our students and schools,” said Superintendent Austin Beutner. “We want to eliminate costly fees and needless bureaucracy so every family and community member can help us provide every child with a great education.”

Currently, many working families and community members are discouraged by the cost and time needed just to register to volunteer at their local schools. To change this, L.A. Unified will cover the $56 fee charged by the state of California that each volunteer is required to pay to for fingerprinting and backgrounds checks. In addition, L.A. Unified will nearly double the number of locations where volunteers would be able to get fingerprinted and complete the process, going from seven to thirteen locations.

"We know that family and community involvement in their children's education is essential for student success,” said Board President Mónica García. “We welcome efforts to remove all barriers that our community currently faces with volunteering in schools. L.A. Unified values parent, family and community engagement, and this will be an important step to make that engagement stronger and better for our students."

“From spending time in each school in my District to meeting with parents, school staff, and partners in each of these school communities, I have consistently heard that the process to volunteer in our schools is too cumbersome, too expensive, and too confusing,” said Board Vice President Nick Melvoin. “I have urged the Superintendent to drastically improve this process so that we can encourage, rather than deter, volunteers helping our schools thrive. I am glad that we are taking this first step by waiving fees for fingerprinting and streamlining volunteer policies, and I look forward to continuing in this direction of cutting red tape and promoting partnerships within our school communities.” 

“I fully support this initiative,” said Board Member Dr. George J. McKenna III. “Anything that serves to support and increase parent participation is a great step toward engaging the community in our schools.”

“As a Board Member who has been strongly advocating for the elimination of this barrier for meaningful parent engagement, I’m very happy and supportive of this initiative to increase parent volunteerism and participation,” said Board Member Scott M. Schmerelson. “We all represent parents who cannot afford the fee associated with the fingerprinting and the background check process. Those who cannot pay are not eligible to volunteer. With the promise of additional fingerprinting machines, and a way to cover the fees, I’m sure we will see a significant increase in volunteerism.”

“Our parents are our partners in student learning, and I’m glad we’re taking steps to make volunteering at school more accessible,” said Board Member Kelly Gonez. “It is critical that our schools and our district welcome our parents on campus as an integral part of the school community.”

“The education process should be - at all times - an “all hands on deck” enterprise,” said Board Member
Dr. Richard Vladovic. “We need our volunteers. We simply have too much work to do to make do without them, and the costs associated with necessary and proper background checks should never be a roadblock to bringing onboard a willing volunteer to help our children."

This proposal is part of ongoing efforts by L.A. Unified to eliminate barriers between our schools and the community. L.A. Unified has conducted parent surveys, increased community meetings and taken various other steps to engage legal guardians to learn how to better serve students and families.