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Parks board approves new background check policy for volunteers
Members of the Forsyth County Parks and Recreation Board approved a new policy for background screenings by a 4-0 vote Wednesday. - photo by File photo

A new policy could mean tougher checks for volunteers helping with youth sports.

Members of the Forsyth County Parks and Recreation Board approved a new policy for background screenings by a 4-0 vote, with member Kimberly Brown absent at its regular monthly meeting Wednesday. The policy must be approved by county commissioners before going into effect.

Laura Pate, marketing and community relations manager, said each division has been doing background checks but wanted a “streamlined policy.”

“We’re taking from what we’ve been doing and trying to update,” she said.

District 2 member Joe Brown added requiring booster clubs for sports at county parks to go through the process as well. Traditionally booster clubs have done their own background screenings. 

Director Jim Pryor said background screenings are done if volunteers work independently with you or those with disabilities collect money or operate heavy machinery. 

District 4 member Gary Cooper said clubs typically background test the head coach but not always the assistant coach.

“I feel sympathy for them. They have a hard time getting volunteers for certain sports,” he said. “So the coach will grab whatever dad to help him and a lot of times that’s where these complaints come from.”

District 5 member Bibiano Lopez favored adding in rules for coaches who are verbally abusive to kids. Pryor said that is typically handled by the clubs.

The requirements are in place for volunteers and independent contractors who work with kids under 18 or those with disabilities, work in an office, rec center or handle money or work independently from staff supervision on an ongoing basis.

There are four categories of offenses that could disqualify volunteers for life.

Potential volunteers can not apply if they have been found guilty of any alcohol or drug related misdemeanor or any other misdemeanor that is a potential danger to children or directly related to their functions as a volunteer in the last three years.

Applicants cannot apply if found guilty within seven years of any violent misdemeanor or 10 years for one or more alcohol or drug related offense or any felony other than violence or sexual violence.

Those found guilty of a violent felony or sexual offense are disqualified for life.