The Orland School District 135 Board of Education will look into adding a requirement that board members undergo a background check before they could serve.
The main purpose of the rule would be to keep anyone registered as a sex offender off the board, said board member Lynne Donegan. Procedurally, the district could consider drafting a resolution to include board members among the Illinois Association of School Boards’ background check program.
“The goal is to protect children and show our constituents that we as a board have integrity, and we mean business,” Donegan said. “I’m hoping we can put this on the agenda for our next meeting and have some healthy discussions about it. If we can’t come to some resolution, I’m hoping to work with (board secretary) Tina (Zekich) on a policy change.”
Board president John Carmody suggested looking into the possible legalities that would need to be in place for such an IASB resolution to take hold, and could do so at the next committee of the whole meeting.
“I certainly don’t think anyone here is against this,” Carmody said.
Though grateful for their help, the sheer multitude of volunteers who assist the district with various functions, such as recent school picnics, led board vice president Ann Gentile to realize a need to possibly screen them.
“We allow kids to go on field trips with unchecked people,” Gentile said. “I never thought of it before until the picnic, but it really is such a widespread situation.”
Carmody suggested a type of training for volunteers that could be installed to emphasize how to appropriately interact with kids.
When asked whether the June 22 deadline to submit resolutions to the IASB would affect this effort, Donegan said she discussed an extension with the governing body and they are willing to give D135 some more time to produce a resolution.