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Frequently Asked Questions

Volunteer Programs Guidance FAQ

Why must I have a criminal background check to participate in volunteer activities at my child’s school?

The safety of all students in Albuquerque Public Schools is our first priority. While we encourage, appreciate and celebrate parental involvement in your child’s school, we want to avoid any situation in which a volunteer might compromise student safety so we are abiding by state law that requires all volunteers at schools to be background checked.

In the past, I chaperoned field trips without a background check. Why has the policy changed?

The policy has not changed. All volunteers must have a current background clearance. There is a state law requiring all volunteers at schools to be background checked so all volunteers must have a current background clearance. There are now two types of clearances, supervised and unsupervised. If your volunteer role requires unsupervised access to children, including field trip chaperoning, you will need an unsupervised/school volunteer full FBI fingerprint clearance. Supervised volunteers must remain in the line of sight of an APS staff member (who is not a Food & Nutrition employee) at all times. Field trip volunteers who only have the supervised clearance will require line of site supervision at all times – no exceptions. Teachers or trip sponsors may limit the number of supervised volunteers if they are not able to provide constant line of site supervision. All clearances are valid for two years from the date of issue.

Does this mean I can’t be involved with the school without a background check?

Not at all. We value and encourage participation in your child’s school. You can take advantage of open houses, curriculum nights, book fairs, beautification days, athletic associations, booster clubs, school performances, take-home projects and parent-teacher conferences. Talk with your child’s teachers, especially if you have questions or concerns about his/her performance of class rules and expectations. Families, parents and guardians are strongly encouraged to be involved with your school’s parent- teacher association.

What’s the difference between volunteering and family involvement?

Volunteering takes involvement to another level in activities with potential contact with students. Individuals are defined as volunteers if participating in activities in which all students are not under the supervision of their parents/guardians. For instance, if a book fair takes place during the school day and the teacher brings the class to the fair, volunteers would have to possess an approved background check. A book fair in the evening in which students are accompanied by parents would not require volunteers with approved background checks.

I don’t want to be a chaperone on a field trip – I simply want to go along to accompany my child. Can I do this without submitting a volunteer application form?

We understand your interest in accompanying your own child. However, any adult on a field trip is going to be potentially involved with other children. Teachers cannot monitor which parents on the trip are cleared and which are not. For the safety of your child and all children, and to abide by state law, it’s required that any adult on a field trip be cleared as an approved volunteer.

Isn’t it my right to be able to accompany my child?

We understand how you might feel this way. Field trips and similar educational opportunities are school activities that are provided for your child, and there’s no requirement for you to participate in order for him/her to take part. However, accompanying your child on a field trip is a volunteer activity.

If I can’t accompany my child, is he/she required to participate?

No. You may choose for your child not to participate in the field trip but please remember that field trips are planned as part of the overall educational program of the school and the district attendance policy is in effect.

If I choose to provide my own transportation to the site of the field trip or activity so that I can keep an eye on my child, and I’m in a public space, how can the school system prevent me from being there?

You have every right to be in a public place. You must keep a distance from the school group and not interact with them to remain in compliance with the APS Policy. If you try to engage with the group, however, you will be asked to “sign out” your child from the group just as you “sign out” from school and cannot “sign in” at the end of the field trip for transportation back to school.

I paid to go on the field trip. What happens to my money if I am not cleared to go on the trip?

The decision to refund a person for a field trip is a site based decision made by the principal and is typically addressed on a case-by-case basis.

What if I don’t have a social security number?

The volunteer application form requires a social security number. If the applicant does not have a social security number, they may contact APS background department’s Applicant Processing at (505) 889-4820.

What if I don’t have a driver’s license?

A government issued picture identification is required in order to verify your identity. You should be prepared to present this identification each time you volunteer.

Is there an age limit to be a volunteer in APS?

You must be at least 18 years old to submit an APS volunteer application. Individuals under age 18 may volunteer with the permission of the school principal and with parental consent.

How long does the background check process take?

The normal processing time is 7–10 business days. The process may take longer in high volume months such as September, October, January and May. The background check is a national check and some states may take longer to process requests. It is recommended that you plan ahead of time to ensure your clearance is finalized in enough time for you to participate.

How do I sign up to be a volunteer?

If your volunteer role requires unsupervised access to children, including but not limited to, field trip chaperoning, you will need an unsupervised/school volunteer full FBI fingerprint clearance. An Unsupervised Volunteer Clearance ($44) must be initiated by the principal or the principal's designee.
To obtain a Supervised Volunteer Clearance ($12), you can apply or renew online. Supervised Volunteers must remain in the line of sight of an APS staff member (who is not a Food & Nutrition employee) at all times. Field trip volunteers who only have the supervised clearance will require line of site supervision at all times – no exceptions. Teachers or trip sponsors may limit the number of supervised volunteers if they are not able to provide constant line of site supervision. All clearances are valid for two years from the date of issue.

Do guests and visitors need a background clearance?

Background clearances are not required for visitors or guests who enter a school for a one-time event. Guests and visitors shall have no unsupervised exposure or contact with students, i.e. they must be in the line of sight of an APS employee (who is not a Food & Nutrition staff member) at all times. Examples of guests and visitors include, but are not limited to:

  • guest/resource speakers
  • one-time appearance for school or classroom event like a literacy day or play day
  • parents and family members who attend school to eat lunch
  • visitors for a one-time family involvement activity with their student
  • parents dropping off items for their student at the school
  • vendors making a delivery to schools

If I have additional questions, who should I contact?

You should first contact the school volunteer coordinator, school clerk or school principal. You can also contact   

                                                                                            Updated 6/22