Chaperone/Volunteer Background Investigations
AACPS is committed to providing safe and secure learning environments for all students and employees. Successful completion of a criminal history background check is required before any person has unsupervised access to students, either on or off school property.
Unsupervised access to students is defined as:
- a person having responsibility for a student or students while not in the direct and continuous view of an AACPS employee. This can occur over extended periods, such as a group of students being overseen by a chaperone during a field trip, or for brief periods, such as when a teacher steps out of the room while a volunteer provides reading mentorship, or overnight field trips.
A commercial background check is required of all chaperones and volunteers without one-on-one unsupervised or unrestricted access to students. This group is inclusive of student teachers, PTA and PTO officers, CAC officers, Booster club officers, field trip chaperones, and chaperones and volunteers who work with children in the presence of an approved AACPS representative.
A request for a commercial background investigation must be completed online* (link is below), with a minimum of ten (10) business days allowed for processing. Only one background check is required for each person, regardless of how many students the applicant has enrolled in AACPS locations. For example, a guardian with a student in elementary, middle school and high school, need only successfully complete one commercial background check request.
Applicants are required to acknowledge information contained in this advisement before applying for a background check, and applicants who are not approved will be notified by school officials. Disapproved applicants seeking additional information can contact the Office of School Security, 410-222-5083, for additional information contained in criminal history record.
*Person 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.
Commercial background check - a comprehensive court records search throughout a state or states, based on written information provided by the applicant under penalty of perjury. The search of court records is conducted by a third-party vendor on behalf of AACPS. No fingerprints are taken during the a commercial background check. The commercial background check must be completed at least ten business days in advance of the field trip or activity.
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.