Opinion

Bainbridge school district makes a good start | IN OUR OPINION

    - Bainbridge Island Review photo
— image credit: Bainbridge Island Review photo

The Bainbridge Island School District is taking an aggressive and comprehensive approach to address shortcomings in the district’s volunteer program.

The changes are needed. The school district came under much fire last year after concerns were raised by some parents about the actions of a handful of volunteers at Woodward Middle School.

The district investigated several volunteers who also serve outside Bainbridge schools as youth pastors, and found no evidence of proselytizing or religious talk between the volunteers and students at Woodward. Even so, some parents remain concerned about the interactions between the volunteers and students at the school.

The district took immediate steps last year to call a halt to the use of unpaid volunteers at Woodward. Now, the district continues to go even further by expanding its volunteer policy.

A new handbook will detail acceptable and unacceptable behavior for volunteers, and the district will also provide written job descriptions that cover the do’s and don’ts for volunteers.

Assistant Superintendent Peter Bang-Knudsen said the new policy is in the best interest of the kids, the district and the volunteers themselves, as it will better inform them of unacceptable behavior.

District staff will consider adding a policy item that says each volunteer will have a point person or staff supervisor, for example, a library volunteer will be supervised by the school librarian.

The handbook will also be modified to clearly explain the volunteer’s application materials. The volunteer must re-apply after two years.

Board input to the new volunteer policy will also help improve areas that sparked concern from some parents.

Board members asked staff to create a flowchart complaint procedure to be included in either the handbook or as an online resource.

The flowchart would explain the process a volunteer should go through should one have a concern about a teacher or another volunteer.

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