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    Every year over 20,000 parents and community members volunteer to contribute to successes of SPS students. We value their donations of time and talent!

    Student Safety First

    SPS is committed to providing students with a safe educational environment. SPS staff, contractors, and coaches (both paid and volunteer) are screened using state and federal background checks. Until recently, majority of other volunteer applicants were screened through the Washington State Patrol’s database known as WATCH.

    Volunteer Background Checks

    WATCH has been SPS’ reliable screening tool for years. Each Principal assigns a background checker who has confidential access to district’s WATCH account to screen every volunteer applicant.

    Unfortunately, WATCH does not provide criminal records from outside Washington. In our rapidly growing city, WATCH is no longer adequate for screening volunteers who serve vulnerable populations, including minors. A tutor convicted of child abuse in Oregon or a field trip driver with a recent DUI in California would both easily pass the WATCH background check.

    For these reasons, SPS updated our screening procedure to include a U.S.-wide background check for volunteer applicants who are new to our state. Since the federal government does not provide a WATCH-like tool, we sought a commercial vendor to provide affordable online background check services, including screening against the national sex offender list, FBI crimes against children and violent offenders searches, and nationwide criminal scan and arrest records.

    A man convicted of child abuse in Oregon applies to tutor SPS students at Cascade Elementary School.
    Mom of a 4th grader volunteers as a field trip driver. Two years ago, she was convicted of a DUI in California.

    Both volunteer applicants would easily pass the WATCH background check.


    New Background Check Procedure

    SPS chose Verified Volunteers as our vendor for U.S.-wide criminal record checks. They offer a more affordable, faster, and more convenient screening service than our previous vendor.

    • Volunteers who have lived in Washington for the past three years are screened via WATCH at no cost.
    • Volunteers who do not meet this criterion complete a one-time U.S.-wide background check via Verified Volunteer for $31. This is also required for volunteers who will meet regularly with students with no other unrelated (via family ties) adults present.

    Applicants who do not have a debit/credit card or access to the internet, or are unable to pay the fee are encouraged to notify staff so we can assist.

    * In rare cases when jurisdictions charge court fees for accessing applicant records this cost may be higher.  

    Thank you for helping us create safe schools for our students!