An Old-Fashioned School Thanksgiving, Except…

Hi Readers! Here’s a little note  from a mom in Massachusetts, land of freedom-seeking Pilgrims, who adds that this Thanksgiving celebration is supposed to be as “authentic” as possible: 

Dear Free-Range Kids: I just got an invitation to my 3rd grader’s upcoming Thanksgiving celebration. Parents are welcome, but must have a current CORI form (criminal background check) on file. Just to come have a snack with your child in a well-supervised group setting.
Which reminds me. That Squanto fellow who was always hanging around. Didn’t he seem a little TOO nice? – L.

Greetings, Otoe woman!  You are welcome to join our celebration just as soon as your background check clears.

52 Responses to An Old-Fashioned School Thanksgiving, Except…

  1. Alecta October 28, 2012 at 6:37 pm #

    The kids already are probably not getting pumpkin pie or gravy or buttered corn with their lunches due to health initiatives, now they can’t even bring along their parents without a background check? Really? I feel bad for the kids whose parents won’t/can’t do the checks – how left out and sad are they going to feel when everyone else has mommy with them eating lunch (because god forbid we let a male anywhere near children) and they don’t?

  2. Melissa October 28, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

    The sarcastic part of me is waaay more interested in how this is going to be “authentic” (in Massachusetts of all places) than the fact that a background check is required! ; )

  3. Emily October 28, 2012 at 8:54 pm #

    I wonder if the school might have been able to get around the “background check” rule by having the event at a restaurant or something? If they’d ordered the food in advance (with each person paying for themselves), then they could probably argue that this isn’t a school-sponsored event, because the school wouldn’t be paying for it, and the restaurant is a public place where anyone could come in. I know it’s not ideal, but the cost of one meal in a restaurant is still much less than the price of a criminal record check.

  4. Beth October 28, 2012 at 9:17 pm #

    @Emily, but why should they have to “get around” at all? Is there really a true fear that parents sharing this meal with their own children are going to wantonly and publicly start feeling up all the other kids? Or finding absurd ways to get to take a kid to the bathroom for, you know, nefarious purposes that can only be achieved in the helping-at-a-class-party setting?

    Maybe not having a background check at all would be better than machinations required to get around it.

  5. Sarah in WA October 28, 2012 at 9:55 pm #

    Some schools require things like this out of fear that they will be sued in the (however unlikely) event that something might happen. The first thing people say is, “This is the school’s fault for not having a background check!”

    If enough of the parents protested the need for a check in this scenario, the school might actually listen. In this day and age, many schools cower to the parents (out of fear of litigation and the like), so why not try?

  6. Jennifer October 28, 2012 at 10:06 pm #

    OK, this is getting old. Schools require it, not because they’re scared of being sued, but because it’s the law. They have no choice. It isn’t a big deal; it involves filling in a simple form. Let’s stop harping on something so simple and trivial and focus on real issues affecting our children, shall we? Filling in a CORI doesn’t affect any children, unless there happens to be a problem with a parent, in which case, do you really want them in the school? Surely there’s something relevant that you can focus on?

  7. Melissa October 28, 2012 at 10:16 pm #

    How many school’s have random people trying to walk in and volunteer in kids classrooms? Is this really such a huge problem? Where are the statistics to back up the needs for parents to prove they are “safe” to come and eat with their own kids? The most infuriating thing, and the point that I think most people miss is that these policies effectively tell each and every parent “We are assuming you are a dangerous pedophile who should not legally be allowed custody of your own child until you provide us this piece of paper.” If you are applying for a job, then they have a right to ask for a background check. But to come and sit with your own child in a classroom? No.

    These imaginary safety nets do nothing to keep kids safe. I would not be volunteering if our schools required this. Not because I have anything to hide (I’m so boring, I don’t even have any speeding tickets) But it’s the principle of the thing for me. And I think schools would be slower to enact these ridiculous policies if they lost the free volunteers they are so dependent on when they enact these brilliant policies. But people just roll over and say “OK, I won’t be allowed these school memories with my child if I don’t do this and I can’t do anything about it.”

  8. tina October 28, 2012 at 10:28 pm #

    But can’t something be done about it? I mean if a group of parents go together and said, “This is ridiculous.” Then they got a petition and got enough signatures to put it on the ballot, could it not have the possibility of having the law overturned? I don’t know as much as I should about these things, but I know our city tried to put up those speed traps that take your picture. A bunch of people got together, got a petition, got it on the ballot, and it was overturned and the officials had to take them down. I don’t know if you’d get enough support, but if I lived in Mass., I would sure try.

  9. Earth.W October 28, 2012 at 10:35 pm #

    Hmm, soon everybody will need a Police clearance just to pass by a school.

  10. Marion October 28, 2012 at 10:39 pm #

    Gee, these parents can be around their kids at home without a background check but they can’t eat with their kids at school without one?

    What is the school concerned about?

    Perhaps this scary scenario: A adult might dive across a turkey and mashed potato-laden table and molest a child, in full view of:

    A-teachers
    B-other kids
    C-their own kids
    D-other parents

    Yeah, that’s likely.

  11. Lollipoplover October 28, 2012 at 10:40 pm #

    “Filling in a CORI doesn’t affect any children, unless there happens to be a problem with a parent, in which case, do you really want them in the school?”

    Yes, this does affect children. How much do these background checks cost? THAT money is what we are not spending on these children to keep out the 1 in million chance that a form will stop a pervert.

    This should not be the new status quo. Creating a bureaucracy in the name of the safety is shameful. I’m not buying school cuts when public schools spend money on this crap. There should be a public shaming site for schools that do this. It’s just Thanksgiving.

  12. Adam October 28, 2012 at 11:06 pm #

    I suppose here is what baffles me about this.
    These aren’t random adults. (not that that should be a problem)
    A parent could come in to the school and go to the classroom to meet with the teacher, drop off a lunch or project, etc. all without a CORI check. You just go through the office, tell them you’re there and why. Right?
    So why is that when more than one parent comes in — and remember, that parent’s child is right there in the classroom!!– a check is all of a sudden needed?
    It’s silly enough that a check is needed to be a classroom volunteer, but this policy seems, essentially, to be saying that a check is needed to be a parent.
    What’s next, a CORI to drop your child off in the morning?

  13. Donald October 28, 2012 at 11:11 pm #

    Dear parents

    You are currently invited to a special thanksgiving celebration where you can meet your child’s classmates and their parents. This is a wonderful way to increase the community spirit. However before you attend, you have to prove that you are not a disgusting pedophile that violates children and doesn’t care how much you scar people as long as you satisfy your own sexual desires.

    This isn’t our idea. We are forced to do this. The bureaucrats and insurance thugs agree that this is the best way to promote the community spirit. They have become so large that they have lost their ability to apply common sense.

    The names and addresses of these politicians and insurance company has been enclosed so that you can write a thank you note.

    Have a nice day!

  14. Donald October 28, 2012 at 11:24 pm #

    @ Alecta
    Excellent point

    …….I feel bad for the kids whose parents won’t/can’t do the checks – how left out and sad are they going to feel when everyone else has mommy with them eating lunch……

    This causes damage. By itself, the damage is very minor. It’s like a drop of water and a constant supply of dripping can cause major damage like making house foundation sink.

    The damage to the child is low self esteem and raised in fear.

  15. AW13 October 28, 2012 at 11:53 pm #

    Does anyone know what would happen if a parent without a CORI on file showed up? Would the teacher kick them out? Would they call an administrator? The police? What are the consequences for going anyway?

  16. CrazyCatLady October 28, 2012 at 11:53 pm #

    What exactly on a background check keeps a person from doing these types of things? Pedophile, um, yeah, no, they don’t need to be around their fix.

    Drug use, getting into bar fights, having your child taken away from you because your baby had meth in their blood? Because you were an accomplice to murder and served time?

    Well, I have known people to fit all of these categories. And I would say that at this point in time, that they are all good parents. Those with the drug use (even the meth) did their treatment and are clean and have regained custody of their kids. Given the rough time that some of these kids and families have had, I would say that their kids need them there more than the people who have nothing on their records.

    Oh, and the guy who was the accomplice to murder, his is a great person who would never go back in time to those things that lead to the unfortunate night. He is a great parent, works in a professional setting, and even worked (with employer knowledge of his background) with kids.

  17. Heather October 29, 2012 at 12:07 am #

    Do you need a background check for the school play too?

  18. bmj2k October 29, 2012 at 12:25 am #

    Ok, what’s the flip side? Ok, I can see them saying that if you don’t have one you can’t go, but what if you have one and it says you were once jailed for fraud? For menacing? Will they keep you out then?

    Need I say how stupid it all is?

  19. Dee October 29, 2012 at 12:34 am #

    All I can say is : ACK!

  20. Father of 2 October 29, 2012 at 12:44 am #

    Since when did all the politicians start telling us how to do things with our own children? Every parent should be fighting these uncalled for laws and rules. We as parents should be the ones responsible for our children not the Government!

  21. Gail October 29, 2012 at 1:18 am #

    And the point being missed by those inventing these silly rules is that the school staff (and the school board) are the EMPLOYEES of the parents and the other townspeople, who pay the taxes that fund the paychecks of these people! Why do the parents just roll over and give in when confronted with this silliness?

  22. Yan Seiner October 29, 2012 at 1:18 am #

    A few years ago a group of re-enactors had a traditional thanksgiving for kids – period dress, period location, all the local veggies grown on location. They chopped a turkey’s head off, cleaned it, and cooked it as a part of the celebration. The parents rose up in revolt and almost had the whole thing shut down. The kids didn’t mind; the parents went balistic. I guess you can eat turkey that comes frozen in a plastic bag, but a fresh turkey that’s killed and gutted is no good.

  23. Donald October 29, 2012 at 1:31 am #

    Lenore

    There are many people that are disgusted with gestapo security. Schools and churches have made some mind boggling decisions as shown by your blog.

    The tsunami of hysteria, litigation, and zero tolerance = zero brains is much bigger than any school board.

    America has it’s problems and cooperation isn’t so good. However, there is one thing that is consistent. Politicians chase votes. If enough people would tell politicians how they would like to see a strengthening of community, they would listen.

    Millions of people are sickened by the over the top security of the schools. If only this mass would write to politicians, we’d see some changes for sure. This idea sound great in theory but in reality, we need direction.

    That’s why I’m asking you to write a few templates and put them on your blog for people can copy n paste as they write to their politician. I propose several letters because the subject is much too big for only one. Besides, if a person gets spammed by the same letter, it won’t be so effective. Multiple templates encourage the people to add to it to make it personalized letter. Perhaps we could enlist Steve Biddulph or Till Gill to help.

    Template:
    1. A strong friendly community adds safety to children
    2. Gestapo security erodes the community and puts children in danger
    3. Living in fear is expensive to taxpayers, the economy, and insurance companies.
    4. Child play is an important part of growth
    5. Raising children in fear is a great way to encourage anxiety/depression
    6. Anxiety and depression cost taxpayers billions if not trillions (politicians will love this)

  24. maggie October 29, 2012 at 1:52 am #

    Jennifer, if it’s the law, my kids’ schools must be breaking it, because they have never required a background for volunteering or attending anything in or out of your child’s classroom. They do require one for a state funded tutoring program, but that one check seems to be valid for a number of years.
    So please, tell me in which state this is the law? And unless a parent is a convicted child predator, I really have no problem with them in my kids’ schools. We all have our little skeletons, don’t we?

  25. Captain America October 29, 2012 at 2:36 am #

    Jennifer (above): I want a background check on you before you are allowed to move into my neighborhood. . . why would you resist unless you are guilty?

    Honestly, where does the hocus end?

  26. Virginia October 29, 2012 at 3:19 am #

    I have never heard of a law which required a background check on parents. Reproducing is not a legislable activity; we can not decide who will and will not be parents, or who are and are not “good” parents. This is a crock of something un-Thanksgiving-like. I would take Melissa’s comment one step further and say EVEN if a parent is a former sexual offender, if that parent has done his/her time and successfully completed treatment, probation, parole, I really have no problem with them. It’s the people, both familial and non, who are not on the registry, that I worry about. And people like Jennifer…

  27. SKL October 29, 2012 at 3:31 am #

    OK, so kids whose parents have a criminal record don’t get to have their parents present? Awesome. Personally I would boycott. How’s that for authentic?

  28. Sue October 29, 2012 at 3:42 am #

    It IS a law in Mass. However, in this particular circumstance it seems it could be gotten around because it is only required for volunteers who will have unsupervised access to children. So as long as the teacher is supervising and she has had her background check, then legally, I don’t think, they would all need one.

    Here’s a paragraph explaining it:

    Is the school or district required to obtain CORI on all volunteers?

    M.G.L. c. 71, § 38R, requires a certified school or district to obtain CORI for “any current or prospective … volunteer of the school department, who may have direct and unmonitored contact with children, including any individual who regularly provides school related transportation to children.” Applying the suggested standard for determining “direct and unmonitored contact” discussed in Question 2 above, the school may determine that there are circumstances in which a volunteer is never in the presence of a child without also being in the presence of another CORI-checked individual, such as the classroom teacher. Similarly, the school may determine that a parent chaperone at a school dance is never permitted to have direct and unmonitored access to students due to the nature of the volunteer position. In these examples, school officials, in consultation with their legal counsel, may determine that the statutory standard does not apply and that they do not need to obtain CORI about these types of volunteers.

    In contrast, a volunteer who chaperones an overnight field trip or drives students in his or her car on a field trip, or one who tutors students privately in a resource room, will be in an unsupervised setting with children. It would be appropriate, therefore, for the school or district to conduct CORI checks on the volunteers for whom student contact is unsupervised and more than incidental.

    The Department recommends that these decisions be made on a case-by-case basis as necessary and in consultation with your legal counsel. Factors to be considered in making the decisions may be included in the school’s or district’s CORI policy.

    Here’s the original link:

    http://www.doe.mass.edu/lawsregs/advisory/cori.html

    I agree with Tina’s suggestion that instead of griping about it or accepting it, these Mass parents should fight it.

  29. Emily October 29, 2012 at 4:14 am #

    @Lollipoplover: While we’re on the subject of background checks, let me share a story with you. I’m a clarinetist, and I’ve taught private clarinet Iessons, both at home, and elsewhere. The new owner of the studio where I was last involved (where I’d been for two years (under a different owner) before I went to Australia) required me to get a criminal record check for $96 CDN, on my own dime, because I was technically a paid employee of the studio, BUT I only made something like $66 per month teaching the one student I had there (the studio charged $25 per half-hour lesson, but deducted 1/3 of that in studio fees), AND this woman wasn’t willing to give me any more students until at least Christmas, AND the student I was working with was about to turn eighteen anyway, AND I never so much as touched the tip of his sleeve. Some woodwind teachers think it’s necessary for teaching proper technique, but I’ve found ways around it, because I hate it too. So, because of this ridiculous policy, I would have lost money teaching at that studio, and the fact that I wasn’t okay with it, made me “completely unreasonable.” I’ve since transferred elsewhere, but I feel badly for my student, because he was at a grade eight level, and the only other clarinet teacher in town who I know of, only teaches students up to a grade six level.

  30. Emily October 29, 2012 at 4:14 am #

    P.S., Off-topic, but for the record, it’s almost impossible to teach an advanced clarinet student anything of value within 30 minutes.

  31. Donna October 29, 2012 at 7:44 am #

    Actually, it ISN’T law. These are NOT volunteers. These are parents coming to a Thanksgiving celebration with their children. While certainly voluntary, it is no more volunteering than attending the school play or band recital. The law absolutely does not apply under any remote reading of it.

  32. Liz Taub October 29, 2012 at 9:55 am #

    I agree with previous comment that a Thanksgiving celebration is not a volunteer situation. People have got to relax! Btw, I think lots of parents in my schools might not pass a background check and don’t have $$ to spend on one anyway! They love their kids, tho’, and come for special celebrations when they are able to.

  33. AW13 October 29, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

    @Yan: I’ve often thought that if people had to kill and clean, or be present for the killing and cleaning of their own meat, many, many more people would be vegetarians. Or at least, meat consumption would be down.

    Also, when I was in high school, it was not uncommon for senior guys to date younger girls. I’ve heard stories of young men in this situation who were charged with statutory rape for sleeping with their (consenting) girlfriends by angry parents. These men will have to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives.

    If one of the fathers in my son’s classes has this particular background, I don’t mind if he’s allowed in the classroom. A man charged with statutory rape for sleeping with a consenting 15 year old when he was 18 does not pose much of a threat to a group of elementary school kids. But I suppose the background check will only bring up “sex offender”.

  34. Lollipoplover October 29, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

    This falls into the “trust no one with our children” category.
    I respect my school because it cancelled school today in anticipation of the weather. But if they required this, they would offend so many mom-moms and granddads who should be part of the celebration. Don’t we want the people we routinely hit up for money for fundraisers (family members of students) to come into our schools to see how wonderful they are?

    Wasn’t Thanksgiving all about inclusiveness?

  35. Amanda Matthews October 29, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

    I’m not understanding how, legally, a SCHOOL can keep you away from your own child. I know that in some states a school is granted the same legal powers as a parent during school hours, but even a parent can not tell the other parent “You can’t eat next to our child until you get a background check.” Barring a restraining order or something similar, how can they legally turn you away if you show up having not had a background check? Even if there is a law about voulenteers, how does the parents’ legal rights not trump that?

    Maybe a CORI is easy to get, but I would not turn my children over to anyone that says I must do or fill out anything to get near them again, no matter how simple.

  36. Warren October 29, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

    Jenn,
    Why should we just accept that this is the way it is? Why should I have to take time off work, pay for a background check, just to take more time off work to spend at the school?
    Being self employed, this can amount to considerable lost income. Where we are we must go in to the Provincial Police detachment and apply for one, then we have to go back in one or two weeks to pick it up. During office hours. No one is allowed to drop of or pick up for you..
    The last time I went through this, it cost close to $800.00 dollars in lost revenue for the business, and the cost of the check. All to make the bleeding heart, whiners of hyper security feel better.

    I used to take my service truck to my daughters two schools, twice a year to help the phys. ed dept. My truck has a commercial compressor,, and we would use it to inflate, and top up all balls, and barriers. Until some soccer mom complained about me not having a background check that year. Now they spend alot more time doing it with hand pumps. Sorry, but I am not spending my money to do them a favour.

  37. Warren October 29, 2012 at 1:13 pm #

    Again, I call for the parents in this specific situation to stand firm, and say NO. None of them jump thru the hoops, and all of them just show up without the background checks.
    Untill parents actually start standing up to the whiney minority, nothing will change. As long as we just accept, and go along with it, nothing will change. Compliance will lead to further restriction.

  38. Carol Everett Adams October 29, 2012 at 1:51 pm #

    @Sue – yes, this is the heart of the matter. The type of criminal activity that our helicopter society is worried about can only take place when an evil person is ALONE with children.

    I am totally OK with checking out people who are ALONE with children. I even understand why my friend and I must co-lead our Girl Scout troop – this is a logical way for us to be held accountable.

    But background checks for parents in a group setting? What a colossal waste of money, time, resources. This is where the departure from common sense takes place.

  39. Captain America October 29, 2012 at 4:23 pm #

    . . . as a man, I’m left wondering: how do women get so batty over these things?

  40. Beth October 29, 2012 at 4:41 pm #

    But Carol, I’m guessing neither you nor yor friend are child molesters; doesn’t it annoy you even one teeny but to have it assumed that you ARE and, because of that assumption, you can never ever be alone with a child?

  41. marie October 29, 2012 at 6:12 pm #

    I would take Melissa’s comment one step further and say EVEN if a parent is a former sexual offender, if that parent has done his/her time and successfully completed treatment, probation, parole, I really have no problem with them. It’s the people, both familial and non, who are not on the registry, that I worry about. And people like Jennifer…

    This comment is awesome! Thank you, Virginia, for such good sense.

  42. pentamom October 29, 2012 at 8:48 pm #

    “Filling in a CORI doesn’t affect any children, unless there happens to be a problem with a parent, in which case, do you really want them in the school?”

    Yeah, the guy who shoplifted and the woman who had a drunk driving conviction once when she was in college deserves to be cut out of their children’s public life forever, because they’re clearly a threat to large groups of children supervised by teachers.

    “@Yan: I’ve often thought that if people had to kill and clean, or be present for the killing and cleaning of their own meat, many, many more people would be vegetarians. Or at least, meat consumption would be down. ”

    That doesn’t square terribly well with history. (Well, the meat consumption would be down part, maybe, just because of the amount of work involved, although people have historically eaten as much meat as they could get their hands on.) But perhaps in an age where people don’t think you should have to get dirty or do anything unpleasant in order to get through life, it might be true.

  43. AW13 October 30, 2012 at 2:17 am #

    @pentamom – You’re right. I was thinking in a modern context.

  44. Carol Everett Adams October 30, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

    @Beth — Yes! It does annoy me! But I recognize that it would be unfair to only require background checks of people who LOOK like criminals, so we all must be checked. ;)

  45. Warren October 30, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

    @Carol

    Just for the record. Why must we all be checked? Why must anyone be checked at all?

    That is just giving into the illusion that security is actually attainable. Security is nothing more than false hope and illusion. No matter what measures are taken, no matter what our efforts are security can never be attained.

  46. Donna October 30, 2012 at 7:53 pm #

    @Carol – Checking every parent who wants to come eat a meal with their child makes MORE sense to you than realizing that parents don’t come to their children’s Thanksgiving celebrations to hit on their classmates so there is no need to check anyone?

    Now I suppose in a world where many people are coming in off the streets to volunteer and attend Thanksgiving celebrations, criminal background checks may make some rational sense. But in the real world where parents and grandparents – the same people who have unlimited access to the exact same children in much more private settings than a school cafeteria – are largely the only ones doing these things, background checks seem ridiculous.

    Parents have not only a right, but a duty, to be part of their children’s education. Participating should be made as easy as possible, not as difficult as possible.

  47. SK October 31, 2012 at 12:59 am #

    Where I teach, plenty of parents have had convictions and served time for drug charges, theft and physical and/or sexual assault. Plenty still live with their children. To be chaperones on our field trip and to volunteer within the classroom, yes, they have to have passed a criminal background check.

    It’s very nice to imagine that all the parents in certain enclaves of our nation would pass a criminal background check, but drug abuse and domestic violence do not know boundaries of class or race.

  48. Violet November 5, 2012 at 1:56 pm #

    SK: I don’t care if my kid interacts with a person who has had a drug charge! How about that! How about if I check to see if the teacher is an alcoholic? Why should the child of a parent who has a drug conviction be deprived of parental involvement in the school?

  49. Violet November 5, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

    Also, SK. if they were convicted of sexual assault, they will very likely not be allowed to go to a school at all. Jeez Louise.

  50. John Snedeker November 14, 2012 at 11:54 pm #

    Welcome to obamastan, suckers.

  51. cpo November 15, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

    Im glad I dont have to deal with those schools anymore. I moved to Florida and I can have lunch with my children any day I want. All I have to do is check into the office. The schools also celebrate Christmas ( yes I said it) and all other taboo holidays. The teachers actually try and work with the families instead of just blaming them. So yes I am glad I got my kids out when I did.

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