Fingerprinting Policy: School Site Presentation

Problems with San Jose Unified’s Fingerprinting Policy

1) It does not conform to cited state law (California Health & Safety 1596.871), rather it contradicts it, as well as Educational Code

a) C H&S 1596.871 applies to day care centers

b) C H&S 1596.871 excludes parents from the fingerprinting requirements

c) C H&S 1596.8713 states the person getting fingerprinted shall not pay for it

d) Educational Code 51101 states parents have the right to volunteer in their child’s classroom

e) C H&S 1596.871 conforms to Educational Code; District Policy does not

Note: the policy obviously does not fit the law, but inquiries to district offices and schools, including this one, continue to be answered with statements saying it is based on state law

2) The district policy is not defined as to the parameters of its search

a) The U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment requires probable cause for a search, which this is

b) When the background check comes back, for which results will a parent be excluded from participation? Misdemeanors? Felonies? Only crimes having to do with predation or violence, or all crimes? Searches must state what they are looking for.

c) Witness/Victim Protection—does this endanger a protected parent (and children) by exposing their identity?

d) How will the district protect the information gathered and returned from the search: will all my information be accessible to district staffers; does this carry a risk of identity theft?

3) It discriminates against socioeconomically disadvantaged parents

a) The cost and logistics of this policy discriminate against parents who cannot pay the money, travel easily, or who work during the limited hours of availability; simply based on demographic reality it will discriminate against the schools with a greater percentage of poorer parents

i. A 1986 lawsuit found the district guilty of socioeconomic discrimination; while the district has clearly made steps to rectify this, the judgment stands and may weigh against the district

4) It discourages volunteering, and thus increases district expenses while losing goodwill

a) the $57 cost, plus the cost and time of getting a money order or cashier’s check, is prohibitively high

b) The cost does not seem to match real world costs, i.e. I can get an FBI fingerprint check on myself for just $31

c) The limited hours for fingerprinting exclude parents who work during those hours

d) Less volunteers means less money from fundraisers, which currently pay many school expenses, such as a music teacher salary, art appreciation supplies, and more

e) Student achievement may be affected, as teachers have less resources; the district may also have to pay for more teacher’s aides

f) Alienating volunteers with such an extreme policy leads to increased community alienation, meaning more tension between the district and the community it needs to support it politically and practically

g) The school is safer and more functional with its childrens’ parents present, not absent

5) The reasons for the policy are not clearly stated

a) as pointed out in 1. above, it is not in line with cited state law

b) there is no information on this policy in the parent handbook or online

c) if there has been a problem with child predators at SJUSD, the district needs to inform parents of this, and consider if and why current policies were ineffective or not used

6) The community has not been adequately informed or allowed to discuss this policy

a) Parents are not aware and are not being told that it includes both a DOJ and a federal background check

b) If the district knew the reasoning behind the policy, there are almost certainly less extreme and more efficient means of achieving these goals

c) As this outline shows, there are unaddressed problems with this policy

How This Can Be Fixed

1) The policy can be rescinded

2) The policy can be revised to conform to the cited State Law: i.e. it applies only to district preschools, and parents are excluded

3) If the district can clearly define the reasoning behind the policy, it can write policy that conforms to those goals more directly (i.e. checking all visitors against the Megan’s Law database online)

Why This Should Be Fixed

The problems cited above make the district vulnerable to costly lawsuits. Even if the district is within its rights, a lawsuit is a lose-lose situation for the district and parents, made worse for the district because of bad publicity and poor communication with its parents

The district needs community support, both within and without, as when a bond issue or other topics are put to the ballot. Its volunteers are its strongest advocates; alienating them shrinks this key base of support. Losing volunteers inevitably means having to pay for the services and goodwill they provided

The district needs to know what it is doing and why, and to communicate this clearly and in a timely manner to parents.

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