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Mars Area School District

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Volunteer Procedures » Volunteer Policy FAQs

Volunteer Policy FAQs

The following are answers to Frequently Asked Questions regarding Mars Area School District's procedures for Volunteers:

1. How have the District's requirements for volunteers changed?

In accordance with recent amendments to Pennsylvania’s Child Protective Service Law, Mars Area School Board has adopted District Policy 916 Volunteers, which sets specific requirements for parents and community members interested in serving as school volunteers. 

2. If I want to be a school volunteer, what are my options?

Volunteers serving in all District schools must comply with District Policy 916 Volunteers, which clearly defines the roles and requirements for parents/guardians and community members interested in volunteering in our schools. District Policy 916 Volunteers establishes the following three categories for volunteers: 

  1. Assistive Volunteers
  2. Independent Volunteers
  3. Volunteer Coaches/Sponsors

3. Who is considered to be an Assistive Volunteer?

Assistive Volunteers are defined as those who:

  1. Work directly under the supervision and direction of a District employee; and
  2. DO NOT have routine interaction with students.

Examples of Assistive Volunteers may include parents/guardians who: 

  • Help to plan or conduct classroom celebrations
  • Attend book fairs or holiday stores
  • Serve as guest readers/presenters in a classroom
 

4. What are the requirements to serve as an Assistive Volunteer?

Parents interested in serving as Assistive Volunteers must:

  1. Complete a Disclosure Statement Application for Volunteers as required by the Child Protective Services Law; and,
  2. Submit to an annual scan of their driver’s license to verify that they are not listed on the National Sex Offender Registry.

The completed Disclosure Statement and license scan must be completed a minimum of two (2) weeks in advance of the date of volunteering.

5. Where do I go to complete the Disclosure Statement and get my license scanned?

The Disclosure Statement form may be completed at the time of the license scan. License scans are conducted in private by designated Mars Area personnel from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, at the District’s Administration Office (545 Route 228; Mars, PA 16046).

6. Do I have to sign the Disclosure Statement and get my license scanned every year?

Yes. The disclosure statement and driver’s license scans for Assistive Volunteers are only valid during the school year in which approval is granted and must be renewed annually.

7. What happens after I get my license scanned?

All approved Assistive Volunteers will be placed on an “Approved Assistive Volunteers List” that will be updated and provided to the Building Principals at the end of the day every Friday during the school year.

8. If I am approved as an Assistive Volunteer, will I be able to volunteer in any capacity at my child’s school?

No. Approved Assistive Volunteers are only permitted to perform the duties of their position as outlined in District Policy 916 Volunteers or as prescribed by the Building Principal.

9. If I want to do more to help out at my child’s school, what is required?

To be eligible for more volunteering opportunities, parents/guardians will need to complete the application process for Independent Volunteers.

10. Who is considered to be an Independent Volunteer?

Independent Volunteers are defined as those who:

  1. Work under the general direction and supervision of any District employee; and
  2. Provide direct services to students or may, from time to time, have or may be reasonably expected to have unsupervised contact with students.

Examples of Independent Volunteers may include:

  • Parents/guardians who volunteer at School-Affiliated Organization (SAO)-sponsored activities within school buildings
  • Library/Classroom Volunteers
  • PTO Building Volunteers
  • Individuals who help to manage, officiate and/or perform functions at an athletic event or extracurricular activity
  • Volunteer Tutors
  • Field Trip Chaperones 
  • Volunteer who provide counseling and/or health-related services to students.
 

11. What are the requirements to serve as an Independent Volunteer?

Parents/guardians interested in serving as Independent Volunteers must:

  1. Complete a District Volunteer Application (available at each school and the District’s Administration Office or online at www.marsk12.org).
  2. Obtain the following clearances:

    • Act 34 Pennsylvania Criminal History Check
    • Act 114 FBI Federal Criminal History Check
    • Act 151 Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Check

The completed Volunteer Application and copies of all listed clearances must be submitted to the Building Principal a minimum of two (2) weeks in advance of the first date of volunteering. 

Note: All non-student volunteers must be age 21 or older.

12. What do I need to do to obtain my clearances?

All of the above clearances may be applied for online:         

Questions regarding how to obtain clearances may be directed to Mrs. Lori Kennedy, MASD Personnel Administrator, at (724) 625-1518, ext. 1512, or lkennedy@marsk12.org

13. If I already have my clearances, do I have to obtain new ones? Or, will the District accept the clearances that I already have?

Mars Area School District will accept valid clearances dated NO LATER than Jan. 1, 2016.  Any clearance report dated prior to Jan. 1, 2016, will not be accepted by the District. All clearances are only valid for five (5) years from the date listed on the clearance report, not the date that a volunteer submits his/her application to the District. Approved volunteers are required to resubmit valid clearances annually.

14. May I submit an Act 114 FBI clearance from another state department other than the Pennsylvania Department of Education?

The District prefers to receive Act 114 FBI clearance reports obtained through the Pennsylvania Department of Education. However, the District may accept an Act 114 FBI clearance completed through the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, assuming that the results of the clearance report may be verified by the District. Clearances obtained through any state department other than the Pennsylvania Department of Education or Pennsylvania Department of Human Services will not be accepted.

15. If I do not have access to a computer or the Internet, where can I go to obtain my clearances?

Parents who do not have access to the Internet may pick up paper copies of the clearance application forms at Mars Area School District’s Administration Office (545 Route 228; Mars, Pa. 16046). The District and its schools are not responsible for mailing paper copies of clearance applications.      

16. Will the school reimburse me for the cost of the required clearances? 

No. The cost of obtaining the required clearances is the responsibility of the volunteer. Note: Act 34 and Act 151 clearances should be free for individuals serving as volunteers.

 17. What happens after my Volunteer Application and copies of all of my clearances have been submitted to the Building Principal?

Mars Area School Board must approve all prospective Independent Volunteers before volunteering can begin. Once the Volunteer Application and copies of all clearances are submitted to the Building Principal, all clearances will be verified and the names of those who have met all District requirements will be placed on the next available Board agenda for consideration by the Board.

18. What happens after I receive Board approval to be an Independent Volunteer?  

All approved Independent Volunteers will be placed on an “Approved Independent Volunteers List” that will be provided to the Building Principal. Only approved Independent Volunteers are permitted perform the duties of their position as outlined in District Policy 916 Volunteers or as prescribed by the Building Principal.

19. What are the responsibilities of a Volunteer Coach/Sponsor:

As stated in District Policy 916 Volunteers, Volunteer Coaches/Sponsors are defined as those who:

  1. Work under the direction or supervision of a coach and/or student activity sponsor employed by the District; and
  2. Directly supervise or instruct students engaged in the activity or may, from time to time, have or be reasonably expected to have unsupervised contact with students.

Examples of Volunteer Coaches/Sponsors may include:

  • Those serving on the coaching staff of an athletic team;
  • Athletic Trainers and/or Equipment Managers; 
  • Choreographers, musicians and other individuals who provide instruction to students in marching band as well as school musicals or plays.
 

20. What are the requirements to serve as a Volunteer Coach/Sponsor?

Anyone interested in serving as Volunteer Coach/Sponsor must:              

  1. Complete a Volunteer Application (available at each school and the District’s Administration Office or online at www.marsk12.org).
  2. Obtain the following clearances:

    • Act 34 Pennsylvania Criminal History Check
    • Act 114 FBI Federal Criminal History Check
    • Act 151 Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Check

  3. Obtain the following:
    • Tuberculosis (TB) Test (as required by the PA Department of Health)
 

The completed Volunteer Application and copies of all listed clearances/reports must be submitted to Mr. Scott Heinauer, Athletics/Activities Director; Mars Area High School, 520 Route 228; Mars, Pa. 16046, a minimum of two (2) weeks in advance of the first date of volunteering.

Note: All non-student volunteers must be age 21 or older

21. What do I need to do to obtain my clearances?

All of the above clearances may be applied for online:

Questions regarding how to obtain clearances may be directed to Mrs. Lori Kennedy, MASD Personnel Administrator, at (724) 625-1518, ext. 1512, or lkennedy@marsk12.org.
 

22. If I do not have access to a computer or the Internet, where can I go to obtain my clearances?

Parents who do not have access to the Internet may pick up paper copies of the clearance application forms at Mars Area School District’s Administration Office (545 Route 228; Mars, Pa. 16046). The District and its schools are not responsible for mailing paper copies of clearance applications.    

23. What do I need to do to obtain a Tuberculosis (TB) Test?

Prospective Volunteer Coaches/Sponsors must first pick up a “School Personnel Health Record” form at the Mars Area High School Athletic Office (520 Route 228; Mars, Pa. 16046) or the District’s Administration Office (545 Route 228; Mars, Pa. 16046). The District form must be completed and signed by a legally qualified physician of the prospective volunteer’s choice.

24. Will the school reimburse me for the cost of the required clearances/reports?

No. The cost of obtaining the required clearances/reports is the responsibility of the volunteer. Note: Act 34 and Act 151 clearances should be free for individuals serving as volunteers.

25. What happens after my Volunteer Application and copies of all of my clearances/reports have been submitted to the Athletics/Activities Director?

Mars Area School Board must approve all prospective Volunteer Coaches/Sponsors before volunteering can begin. Once the Volunteer Application and copies of all clearances are submitted to the Athletics/Activities Director, all clearances will be verified and the names of those who have met all District requirements will be placed on the next available Board agenda for consideration by the Board.

26. What happens after I receive Board approval to be a Volunteer Coach/Sponsor?  

All approved Volunteer Coaches/Sponsors will be placed on an “Approved Volunteer Coaches/Sponsors List” that will be provided to the Athletics/Activities Director. Volunteer Coaches/Sponsors will only be approved for the individual sport and/or activity for which they are applying to volunteer. Approval by Mars Area School Board is required to volunteer for additional sports and/or activities within the District. Only approved Volunteer Coaches/Sponsors are permitted perform the duties of their designated position as outlined in District Policy 916 Volunteers or as prescribed by the Athletics/Activities Director.

27. How often do I need to re-submit my clearances?

As per District Policy 916 Volunteers and the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law, copies of valid clearances shall be re-submitted annually and said clearances shall be required to be renewed any time there is a break in continuous service for a period of more than one (1) school year. Independent Volunteers and Volunteer Coaches/Sponsors shall obtain and submit new certifications every sixty (60) months when providing ongoing, uninterrupted service to the District. A volunteer will not be approved if the required criminal history or child abuse reports/clearances required show evidence of an offense that would preclude such individual from being employed in accordance with applicable Pennsylvania public school as per state and federal law.

28. Whom should I contact if I have questions regarding Mars Area School District’s volunteer roles and/or requirements?

Questions regarding the roles/requirements for specific categories of volunteers may be directed to the Building Principal, Athletics/Activities Director, or to Mrs. Lori Kennedy, MASD Personnel Administrator, at (724) 625-1518, ext. 1512, or lkennedy@marsk12.org.