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Waynesville schools tell recreation board they can't share background check data on coaches
WAYNESVILLE/ST. ROBERT, Mo. (Nov. 20, 2008) — Members of the Community Recreation Board hit a snag Wednesday night when the volunteer coordinator for the Waynesville R-VI School District said she can’t release the school district’s background checks.

Due to concerns about what might happen if a youth sports coach harmed a student athlete, recreation board members agreed a criminal background check needs to be done on coaches to make sure coaches don’t have prior legal issues. Those background checks cost $9 when done through the St. Robert Police Department, so recreation board members asked Waynesville school officials whether they could cooperate on the background checks that the school district already requires for its volunteers.

Recreation Board chairman Charles Kristek asked Waynesville school volunteer coordinator Kim Hawk who had told her that she couldn’t release the results of the background checks. Hawk said that answer came from the Waynesville superintendent, Judene Blackburn, and the school’s background check coordinator.

“When I talked to Dr. Blackburn about how we could work together to reduce the cost, she told us we could work together but we could not get the background checks,” Kristek said.

That answer surprised Kristek, who asked that the “legal eagles” be consulted to reconsider whether the Waynesville schools could release the background check information to the Community Recreation Board since the school district is one of several member organizations that make up the Community Recreation Board.

“I would still ask them in case they didn’t consider the relationship between this board and the school district,” Kristek said.

Board member Rube Dowell agreed.

“We don’t need details of the reasons for denial given to us,” Dowell said, noting that if for some reason a youth sports coach had been denied permission to volunteer in the school district, the St. Robert police could still be asked to do their own background check.

“There’s no point in us running a background check again if the school has already paid to have one done,” Dowell said.

Hawk said the recreation board members may want to do their own background checks anyway since the standards for being a school volunteer and a youth sports coach may be different.

“You may want them to come back to you. If you find out that Mrs. Smith wrote a bad check, you may not want them to be the PTO treasurer, but do you want to say they can’t be a youth sports coach?” Hawk asked. “If you had a DWI six years ago, does that mean you can’t go on a field trip with your kid? Probably no. If you have six DWIs and one of them was last month, are we going to ask you to be a sponsor for someone else’s kid on a trip to the zoo?”

Recreation Coordinator Joanne Bishop said all the recreation board members need is a “yes” or “no” answer on whether a person who wants to be a youth sports coach has been approved to be a school volunteer, since people the schools don’t want to volunteer with students are probably people the recreation board wants to examine more closely.

“If you say that such and such a coach is not a volunteer for you, then we need to do our own background check,” Bishop said. “We’re not having to do many of them because most of them are already firefighters or volunteers through the school district or for some other reason have already had a background check done.”

Kristek said getting the background checks done is important.

“It’s a way to keep our kids safe,” Kristek said. “It is minimal because we’re not having to have very many of them done, but it’s another step toward improving the safety of our kids.”

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