Criminal background checks for all?

Lakeville task force considers school security measures

Criminal background checks may be required of parents before they are allowed to help with their child’s classroom party under a proposal Lakeville Area Schools Superintendent Lisa Snyder said she plans to soon recommend to the Lakeville School Board.

Snyder told the district’s volunteer Security Task Force at its Jan. 14 meeting the task force’s leadership team will recommend all volunteers undergo background checks before they are allowed to volunteer in Lakeville schools.

The district now only requires criminal checks for chaperones of overnight activities.

“I’m really concerned about that,” Snyder said, adding she would recommend the measure regardless of what the task force recommends to the board.

She said the process would be confidential, conducted by the Human Resources Department and include an appeals process for volunteers who are denied to be reconsidered.

Lakeville Area Schools Superintendent Lisa Snyder discusses school safety with the task force at a Jan. 14 meeting. photo by Laura Adelmann

Lakeville Area Schools Superintendent Lisa Snyder discusses school safety with the task force at a Jan. 14 meeting. photo by Laura Adelmann

Snyder’s recommendation was among many security measures discussed by about 20 task force members made up of parents, police, school staff and business members with diverse security-related backgrounds who are reviewing an array of potential safety improvement strategies and are expected to provide recommendations for the Lakeville School Board to consider within weeks.

Members electronically voted for various security options that included whether staff members with conceal carry licenses should be allowed to bring a gun to school, (no, 65 percent) and if the district should invite retired police officers to walk school hallways (yes, 71 percent).

Members did not approve of installing metal detectors at the main entrances of every school, but agreed more security cameras are needed in the high schools and middle schools.

If money were no object, the group generally approved of equipping Lakeville classrooms with panic buttons and adding buzzers to let visitors into school buildings.

Discussion also centered on prevention by improving mental health screening, staff training and services.

Suggestions included implementing school crisis teams, updating emergency plans and improving training coordination with police and school staff.

Surprise drills, although difficult administratively, were also advocated to better prepare teachers and emergency responders.

In an interview, School Board Chair Roz Peterson said school safety is “crucially important,” but cited some concerns about whether the district should conduct background checks on all district volunteers, the majority of which are parents.

“I’d want to make sure anything we do will accomplish the goal of keeping students safe without violating the rights of parents,” she said. “Obviously, this is uncharted territory for us, and we’re learning as we go. It’s important we stay very much inclusive and discuss this as a community.”

  • Notasha

    Notasha Mauzy I don’t really see how background checking parent volunteers would have prevented the tragedies like Columbine or Newton. I have nothing to hide so wouldn’t avoid a background check, but I could see how a lot of parents would not want to go through the process. Ultimately causing a lot of good parents not to volunteer. With classes reaching sizes of 27-30 students without our volunteers, our students would be stripped of a lot of enrichment groups often lead by volunteers. Also who would pay for this? We have no money or resources for art but we do for background checks? When is the last time a parent volunteer was the cause of a mass tragedy? Unfortunately I think this is missing the mark at protecting our children from school violence.

    • Notasha

      I am not sure why my name is at the beginning of this post, but that is ok; I support my thoughts and opinions! :)

  • TAXPAYER28

    they aren’t interested in protecting childern, they post signs telling bad guys that they are unarmed and easy pickings. Concealed carry amongst the staff would do more to protect them as has been proven when ever concealed carry laws are put in effect.

  • TheLip

    Not sold on arming staff, that did not help at Columbine, they had armed security. Did not help at the Gabby Gifford shooting where there was an individual who said he was armed but afraid to shoot because he might hit others besides the shooter. I do not think a person out to do harm and out ot their mind even brings into account that there might be armed individuals at the venue they plan to do harm at. Please list accounts where armed individuals have made a difference in a venue being attacked. Does the person who planned on doing harm come out later and say, “I was going to shoot up the place but knowing someone might be armed convinced me otherwise”. Just not sold on arming staff, would they not be the first target to go after at a venue picked for an attack?

    • TAXPAYER28

      Armed security is different than conceal carry in the respect that the perps don’t know who to target first. The idea that law abiding peaceful citizens should not be give opportunity to protect themselves is the real issue. If you are fortunate to be one of the “important people” you send you kids to a school with armed guards. If you’re just a poor peasant, well the police will come after all the carnage is over and they will have all sorts of laws that were broken so they can get a conviction on the perp who usually commits suicide.

  • TheLip

    If I am not mistaken in this state law abiding peaceful citizens and in other states do have the opportunity to protect themselves with CC, is it not up to the states to decide that? Please clear up you thought about the real issue being that citizens should not be given the opportunity to protect themselves. I do not think that the feds dictate conceal and carry laws to the states. If citizens in a state without CC do not have it, they should work to make it legal in their state. Please do not come back with citizens might not be able to arm themselves due to the feds making some law in the future, that argument does not hold much water because we really do not know if that will happen. Again, if someone not in their right mind is going to commit mass murder, I do not think their thoughts are oh, maybe I should not, their might be someone that is armed and will do me harm. I believe they want to die and before they do they want to murder as many others as possible, you even said so “the perp usually commits suicide.

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