One of the hallmarks of  our tremendous County is the presence of an army of community volunteers. These selfless people give their energy, time and unique skill sets to the greater mission of inspiring and maximizing the potential of our students.

We feel it’s important to remind everyone of our stance on the issue of requiring volunteers to submit to a background check.

The Code of Virginia requires that:

As a condition of employment, school boards of the Commonwealth shall require any applicant who is offered or accepts employment after July 1, 1989, whether full-time or part-time, permanent, or temporary, to submit to fingerprinting and to provide personal descriptive information to be forwarded along with the applicant’s fingerprints through the Central Criminal records Exchange to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for the purpose of obtaining criminal history record information regarding such applicant. (Code Reference)

 

Let’s be clear. School Boards in Virginia are required by law to do a background check on anyone who’s going to work in the school division – no matter what capacity or how long they plan to work. Hourly tutors doing remediation for a week, evening custodians, substitute teachers – doesn’t matter. If we’re going to employ them for even one hour, the law says they need to be fingerprinted.

In Goochland, we have chosen to closely follow the guidelines for employees as we consider our volunteers. We have flexibility, but have chosen only to exercise it in very unique circumstances.

The guidelines we use include two simple questions:

  • Will the volunteer ever be unsupervised with children?
  • Will the volunteer be regularly spending time with children?

If the answer is “yes” to either question, we require a background check. Like the Code, we don’t not attempt to draw lines among people – those we know/don’t know, those our friends know/don’t know, those who seem trustworthy/seem suspicious, those with whom we’ve worked before/those who we’ve never met.

That’s a fruitless exercise and a very slippery slope. We all know people we trust explicitly and would never suggest they are a danger to your children. Our commitment is to ensure every parent that we will not give any adult access to their children, unsupervised or repeated, without ensuring that adult has completed the background check – the same one required by law of our employees.

We believe it’s our obligation to confidently look our community in the eyes and say we are doing all we can to ensure your children are safe at school.

It can be awkward to require those who have been volunteering in past years without the background check and doing inspiring work in our schools to submit to a fingerprint check. Those are often individuals who are well-known to be powerful positive influences in our community. It seems to be an affront to the selfless and generous spirit those people have poured out when we ask them to go through a criminal background check. It’s as though we think they might be criminals.

We don’t. Just as we don’t suspect the exemplary candidates to whom we offer jobs in our division to be criminals either. But as the law requires that we screen all employees, we extend that same level of precaution to all adults who will have repeated or unsupervised access to your children. No matter who they are.

Not because we suspect they need it, but because we want every parent to rest easy that we aren’t making that kind of subjective judgement call when it comes to the safety and wellbeing of their children.

We would never want to offend anyone, especially our wonderful volunteers. It’s even more important to us that every parent, after they put their children on a bus or drop them off at the school doors, goes into the day will absolute certainty that their children are safe.

Your child’s safety is non-negotiable.

Hello GCPS Families,

We are writing to make you aware of a situation that occurred today.  Through various outlets including social media, many students and families have become concerned that there have been threats of violence at Goochland High School tomorrow. We wanted to be sure our information was verified and  accurate before releasing an official statement to our community.

We are aware of these threats and have been working diligently with law enforcement to determine an appropriate response.  Additionally, as we have been made aware of students that are involved in this incident we have asked our law enforcement partners to contact or visit families of the rumored student(s) this evening if they have not already been in touch with the families.  Whereas our investigation has not led us to believe there are any credible threats, we are handling each students’ situation per our student code of conduct and our law enforcement partners are also considering consequences.

We are treating this situation with utmost seriousness and attention. As an added measure, the Sheriff has agreed to have a deputy on site immediately.  Additionally, we will have the entire shift at the GMS/GHS complex tomorrow along with another unit at GES.

The safety of our students and staff is our absolute top priority. Our law enforcement partners and the GCPS administration believe there is no credible threat at this time; however to ensure the security of the school we will have additional law enforcement presence throughout the day.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.  Thanks!

Goochland County Public Schools have been chosen to receive $24,000 in funding to support safety preparedness initiatives during the 2015-16 school year. Governor Terry McAuliffe announced last week that the Commonwealth has awarded $6 million in School Security Equipment Grants to help ensure the safety of Virginia’s schools.

The committee that developed the grant application included:

  • Sonny Turner, Maintenance Supervisor
  • Peter Martin, Network Administrator and Technical Services Coordinator
  • Robin Powers, Accounting Technician
  • Tom DeWeerd, Director of technology and Administration
  • Bruce Watson, Director of Career & Technical Education
  • Peter Gretz, Assistant Superintendent of Business Operations

The grant funds will support key initiatives, identified through the work of the GCPS Crisis & School Safety Task Force as well as continued partnership with the Goochland Sheriff’s Office and Fire and Rescue Department. Specifically, this year’s award will enable the division to:

  • establish communication between Goochland High School and Goochland Tech,
  • establish communication between Goochland High School and Goochland PREP,
  • upgrade communication between Goochland Elementary and the ESCE Preschool (2nd floor of Goochland Tech),
  • provide new two-way radios to all schools, including Goochland Tech, the ESCE Preschool, and Goochland PREP,
  • install amplification of the intercom system in shop labs at Goochland Tech where noisy equipment and machinery can make communication challenging, and
  • purchase and implement a “Panic Button” software solution that will enable access to a mobile panic alarm, emergency notification, real-time location tracking, and a mass update system to better facilitate communication and resolution of emergency situations in all school facilities.

“We intend for our schools to be places where students, staff and community members can pursue deeper learning,” superintendent James Lane said. “As we work together to maximize the potential of every learner, we must also commit to ensure that all of our schools are safe.”

The School Security Equipment Grant program was established by the 2013 General Assembly in the aftermath of the December 14, 2012, mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.

“All those who visit our schools throughout the school year will be safer today because of this grant award,” school board chairman John Lumpkins said. “This will provide our schools and first responders with necessary tools to respond quickly and effectively if a security threat does arise.”

Goochland County Public Schools have been chosen to receive $24,000 in funding to support safety preparedness initiatives during the 2015-16 school year. Governor Terry McAuliffe announced last week that the Commonwealth has awarded $6 million in School Security Equipment Grants to help ensure the safety of Virginia’s schools.

The committee that developed the grant application included:

  • Sonny Turner, Maintenance Supervisor
  • Peter Martin, Network Administrator and Technical Services Coordinator
  • Robin Powers, Accounting Technician
  • Tom DeWeerd, Director of technology and Administration
  • Bruce Watson, Director of Career & Technical Education
  • Peter Gretz, Assistant Superintendent of Business Operations

The grant funds will support key initiatives, identified through the work of the GCPS Crisis & School Safety Task Force as well as continued partnership with the Goochland Sheriff’s Office and Fire and Rescue Department. Specifically, this year’s award will enable the division to:

  • establish communication between Goochland High School and Goochland Tech,
  • establish communication between Goochland High School and Goochland PREP,
  • upgrade communication between Goochland Elementary and the ESCE Preschool (2nd floor of Goochland Tech),
  • provide new two-way radios to all schools, including Goochland Tech, the ESCE Preschool, and Goochland PREP,
  • install amplification of the intercom system in shop labs at Goochland Tech where noisy equipment and machinery can make communication challenging, and
  • purchase and implement a “Panic Button” software solution that will enable access to a mobile panic alarm, emergency notification, real-time location tracking, and a mass update system to better facilitate communication and resolution of emergency situations in all school facilities.

“We intend for our schools to be places where students, staff and community members can pursue deeper learning,” superintendent James Lane said. “As we work together to maximize the potential of every learner, we must also commit to ensure that all of our schools are safe.”

The School Security Equipment Grant program was established by the 2013 General Assembly in the aftermath of the December 14, 2012, mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.

“Virginia students, teachers, administrators, support staff — and the parents and others who visit our schools throughout the school year — are safer today because of this program,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples said. “This program enhances school safety and gives our schools and first responders the tools they need to keep out intruders and respond quickly and effectively if a security threat does arise.”