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State Fingerprinting Requirement for Coaches, Volunteers Expected to be Delayed by One Year

June 17, 2010

When Assembly Bill 1025 by Assemblywoman Connie Conway (R-Visalia) was signed into law last year, a number of questions and concerns immediately arose in the field regarding its fingerprinting requirements. As a result, the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) and several other education groups from both management and labor organized to address issues that were raised by the legislation.

Another bill has been introduced that will delay implementation of AB 1025 for one year – until July 1, 2011 – which will create an opportunity to introduce clean-up legislation. The new bill, AB 346, was also introduced by Assemblywoman Connie Conway.

AB 1025 was originally introduced to close a perceived gap between coaches hired by a school district, who are required to be fingerprinted, and walk-on coaches who volunteer or are employed by a school’s booster club. Walk-on coaches are not currently required by law to be fingerprinted prior to working with students.

ACSA and others in the education community were initially led to believe the bill was narrow in scope and would simply ensure all unfingerprinted coaches working with students would be fingerprinted and receive a clearance certificate.

Instead, AB 1025 became more broadly interpreted.

Legislative staff and the state Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) held that all non-certificated employees, volunteers, people hired by outside providers, etc., who are in the position to be a head coach of athletics or academics must obtain an Activities Supervisor Clearance Certificate (ASCC).

This would mean that, although classified employees are fingerprinted for purposes of employment, they would have to go to the CTC for another set of fingerprints in order to obtain the ASCC if they serve as head or lead coach, director or supervisor of a school-sponsored activity.

Adding to the problem are those individuals who decide to go to the CTC for fingerprinting in order to receive the ASCC and are not printed by a school district.  A school district could find itself with enormous liability should the person commit a crime and the CTC was notified but not the district. In order to protect itself, the district would likely require a second set of prints.

In addition, ACSA recently learned that students working part-time or volunteering in any of the identified activities would be required to get fingerprinted and receive the ASCC, even if they are also a student of the district.  Current law does not require these students to be fingerprinted.

“This last problem appears particularly ridiculous, as the idea behind fingerprinting those who work with students is to weed out those who are undesirable for such contact,” said ACSA Legislative Advocate Laura Preston. “Of course, a student in a school district already has contact and access with other students every day in school.”

Since October, several education stakeholders have been diligently trying to find a solution to problems incurred in the measure. Additional issues were raised by the ACLU and others.  With the July 1 enactment date approaching, there simply wasn’t any more time to solve the numerous problems in AB 1025.

“Thankfully, we are able to amend another Conway bill, AB 346, to move the enactment date back one year,” Preston said. “This will give us the opportunity to introduce legislation in January and address the problems in AB 1025. It may also be time to revisit the overall issue of who should be fingerprinted, and should these individuals be fingerprinted by both the Department of Justice and the FBI or not. Also, the civil rights groups can have a discussion about what they are seeking in public with input from the Legislature.”

In addition to the one-year extension, language will be inserted into the bill to allow the CTC to issue the ASCC for those individuals who have already applied and paid fees. There will be no additional requirement to receive the ASCC for now.

AB 346 is quickly moving through the legislative process to meet the July 1 deadline.

Source:  Association of California School Administrators