Hernando School Board to discuss background check policy
The Hernando County School Board is slated to discuss possible revisions to its background screening policy at its workshop on Tuesday after the policy blocked a longtime volunteer from entering the schools.
The person at the center of the debate is Pastor Clarence Clark, a well-known figure in the school district who says he has put in more than 10,000 volunteer hours.
Clark was blocked in late May from volunteering in the district due to a failed background check. The reason: a felony conviction from more than a decade ago.
In November 1996, Clark pleaded guilty to grand theft and uttering a forged instrument after he admitted to stealing three checks from his employer at the time, court records show. He cashed one check for $450 and tried but failed to cash another. A judge withheld adjudication and sentenced him to three years of probation. Nine months later, Clark was adjudicated guilty on the felony charges after violating four conditions of his probation.
Under School Board policy, volunteers with student contact are required to have a Level III security badge. Those badges may be revoked due to a felony conviction.
Board members on Tuesday will review and discuss statutes and policies that govern background checks. They have the ability to adjust the policy however they see fit and aren’t terribly restricted by state law.
“I’m not aware of any specific statute that governs background screening requirements for volunteers,” said board attorney Dennis Alfonso.
Some board members, in previous meetings, seemed open to the idea of taking a careful look at the policy.
"It is our policy and it is our law, but that is not to say that it can't be looked at and changed," said board member Dianne Bonfield.