Chaperone/Volunteer Background Investigations
Anne Arundel County Public Schools is committed to providing safe and secure learning environments for all students and employees. Successful completion of a background check is required before any person has access to students, either on or off school property. The Office of Investigations has continued to work closely with the Office of School Security to review AACPS protocols for conducting background checks.
Background investigations are divided into two categories: fingerprint-supported background checks and commercial background checks. Once a fingerprint-supported background check is performed, applicants no longer need to submit the electronic backgeround check.
Fingerprint Supported Background Check
All employees, coaches, bus drivers, and bus aides, must complete a fingerprint-supported background check prior to beginning employment. Additionally, the following groups of individuals must complete a fingerprint-supported background check:
- All overnight volunteers or chaperones
- All drown proofing volunteers or chaperones (effective 07/02/2018)
- Any volunteer or chaperone with one-on-one unsupervised/unrestricted access to children
- Student teachers
- All Studnet Services Interns/Practicum students (effective 07/02/2018)
- Any intern with one-on-one unsupervised/unrestricted access to children
One-on-one unsupervised or unrestricted access- a person having responsibility for a student while not in the direct continuous view of an AACPS employee. This does not include chaperones or volunteers who supervise groups of students (e.g. field trips to the zoo, museum, BSO performance).
Fingerprint-supported background checks must be scheduled through the Fingerprintng Office at 410-222-5045. The Fingerprinting Office is located at the AACPS Central Office on Riva Road and is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, during the school year. The cost of fingerprinting is $57.00 and it includes the commercial background check. Fingerprint-supported background checks for chaperones should be completed at least 3 weeks prior to the scheduled field trip.
Each applicant requiring a fingerprint-supported background check is provided with a blue Fingerprint Verification Card. This card should be kept with the applicant while on school grounds and should be displayed to an administrator upon request. Each school should keep a running list of chaperones and volunteers that have been fingerprinted.
All questions regarding this process, or to confirm the results of a fingerprint-supported background check should be directed to the Office of Investigations at 410-222-5287.
Commercial Background Check
All chaperones and volunteers without one-on-one unsupervised or unrestricted access to students must complete the online request for a commercial background check. This group is inclusive of PTA and PTO officers, CAC officers, Booster Club officers, and chaperones or volunteers who work with children in the presence of an approved AACPS representative (e.g. daytime field trip to the zoo). These background checks are at no cost to the applicant and are valid for 2 years. All applications should be submitted electronically at least 3 weeks prior to the intended school event.
*Persons without personal computer access may access this process on a school computer or use computers in a public library.
Volunteer - a person who provides a variety of services (e.g., tutoring, mentoring, clerical assistance, chaperoning, athletic coaches, club advisors, etc.) without financial payment from AACPS. A volunteer generally includes persons who regularly, i.e., on more than one isolated occasion, provide scheduled time and service working in an uncompensated capacity. A volunteer may, however, provide uncompensated service on isolated occasions. These types of volunteers frequently include persons who serve as "chaperones" during on and off-campus school events. A volunteer might additionally include student teachers, PTA/PTO officers, and/or office assistants with access to personally-identifiable information, currency and other sensitive matters.
Chaperone - one type of volunteer who provides short-term supervision to students during on-campus and/or off-campus educational activities. The role of the chaperone is to encourage safe and proper student behavior during activities where an AACPS employee cannot reasonably be expected to keep students in his/her exclusive observation. Chaperones, by nature of the duties assigned, are presumed to have uncontrolled access to students.
Visitor - a person who arrives at an AACPS educational location for a short period of time for a specific purpose. Visitors can include family members, vendors, community members and other non-AACPS employees who are doing specific business at that location. Generally, a visitor might have access to students, but this access will be supervised. Supervised access to students occurs when an adult has proximal contact with students while remaining under the direct observation of an AACPS employee. As an example, supervised access to students can occur during "guest reader" events where the visitor provides educational service to students while in the continual presence of an AACPS employee. Other examples of supervised access to students might occur during field day activities and/or science fair judging. Visitors are not required to complete commercial background criminal history checks. Visitors will only be required to present photographic identification that allows school personnel to enter the visitor's name into a software program that checks Registered Sex Offender databases in the United States.
Screening criteria - the standard of judgment for evaluating an applicant's criminal history record against expected standards for persons who have access to students. It is essential that AACPS consider each applicant's criminal history in totality and in context of law enforcement experience and training. AACPS has the legal and ethical obligation to protect children in the District's care, and as such, no list of disqualifying crimes and adjudicated outcomes can be all-inclusive. Multiple criminal charges are frequently imposed during singular events. Plea negotiations and other legal strategies dramatically impact each case's disposition. Some applicants will have recurrent misdemeanor criminal charges. Some applicants will have serious felony convictions adjudicated decades prior. AACPS must exercise prudent and conservative judgment when reviewing each request that facilitates a person having access to children in the District's care. AACPS retains the exclusive right to approve or deny any unpaid volunteer the opportunity to have access to students based on unique factors in the applicant's criminal history.
Approval period - the length of time an approved commercial background check remains effective. Commercial background checks are valid for two calendar years. AACPS, however, retains the discretion to require a subsequent background investigation for any volunteer within that two-year period. AACPS additionally retains the exclusive right to revoke volunteer authorization for derogatory information coming to the District's attention during the two-year period.
Do I Need Fingerprinting?
All employees must submit to and pass a background check. Likewise, adults who have unsupervised access with students must have either a commercial background check or a fingerprint-supported background check.
Here are some commonly asked questions to help parents and guardians ascertain what they need to do in order to work with AACPS students.