July 27, 1998


The Katy Times 

Dear Editor,

I am outraged that the school board expressed mere “skepticism” over criminal background checks for volunteers in our public schools.  The trustees should have been furious that the subject was even broached. Probably 98% of the regular volunteers in our schools are mothers.  I will be interested to see, as this policy appears to be a done deal, how many mothers of KISD children turn out to be felons!  To insult these parents who are offering freely their time and effort is unthinkable.  This policy reeks of government intervention into the privacy of individuals. There have been incidents that appear to call for bonding of those parents who handle funds over fifty dollars, but that would be a  special case. Since “volunteers” are supposed to be supervised while they cook, chaperone, copy and collate, their contact with children can not be suspect.

Criminal background checks on businessmen (not parents) who “volunteer” to be “mentors” (whatever that means) with our children, is another matter.  If background checks are to be expanded, might I suggest that this group be the target.  Many times these businessmen do NOT have children enrolled in our schools, and wearing a suit does not elevate them to sainthood.  According to a reply to my question as a trustee when one of these “mentoring” programs was installed at Winborn Elementary, parents do NOT have the right to know business “mentors'” names, anything about their criminal or personal backgrounds, their beliefs, or their intentions. These business people, however, may spend hours and hours with one’s child over a semester exerting plenty of influence. The intent of many of the businesses supplying these “mentors,” especially those who are members of the Business Roundtable, is to restructure the public schools so that they will turn out malleable workers at taxpayer expense.  For that reason, I think all parents have a right to know who these “mentors” are and what they are saying to and doing with public school children. 

Perhaps an expanded Board Policy GKG (Local) could also install a background check of our top seven volunteers.  I refer, of course, to school board trustees whose background is NEVER checked.  Things that might be helpful to know include:  Since these volunteers create policy, do they believe in and support capitalism and the free enterprise system or do they believe in and support some other form of economic system?  Are they interested in doing right by everyone’s children or just their own?  Do they have a penchant for prevarication when it comes time to run for office? Does their employer belong to the Business Roundtable? Most importantly are there any felonies in THEIR background? Do they hope the Legislature eventually passes a personal income tax for Texans?  [And perhaps checking out the backgrounds of school board candidates wouldn't be a bad idea either!]

The other part of this story that bothers me is that no mention was made of who is going to pay for these “criminal investigations.”  Will it be the school district (that is, the taxpayers), or will it be, as I have heard, one of these inter-galactic corporations that needs to get its nose out of the public schools’ business?  What would be the reason a business would offer to do these criminal background checks for free?

One has to wonder what the president of the school board had in mind when she even allowed this item to take up space on the agenda when it has the potential to run off any of the volunteers who care about their individual rights and their privacy.

Mary McGarr 

Permission is given to print all of this letter or none of it.