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Volunteer Programs Frequently Asked Questions

Volunteering with APS Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I volunteer?

Volunteers can make an impact on school and district educational priorities and goals by:

  • Increasing Student Outcomes
  • Elevating Family Engagement
  • Helping to get Community Resources to Students and Families
  • Getting Much Needed Help to Teachers and Staff
  • And more!

How do I sign up to be a volunteer at my child’s school?

Please reach out to your school’s volunteer coordinator to learn about the school’s needs and to make sure you get the type of background clearance that you will need to start volunteering (more below).

Why do I need to have a criminal background check to volunteer at my child’s school?

The safety of all students in Albuquerque Public Schools is our first priority. While we encourage and celebrate family engagement in schools, we must also uphold State law that requires all volunteers in or with schools to have a current APS background clearance.

How do I get an APS background clearance and what type of clearance do I need?

There are two types of background clearances, supervised and unsupervised.

If your volunteer role means that you will have any time alone with students without being in the line of site of an APS employee (who is not a Food & Nutrition employee) at all times and places (even during field trips), that means you will be unsupervised and will need a full unsupervised FBI fingerprint clearance ($59). To get this type of clearance, there are several steps. To start, please contact your school volunteer coordinator, clerk, principal or their designee. They will submit your information to APS to initiate the process and APS will reach out to you to direct you on the next steps. Please do not make an appointment to be fingerprinted until you have received e-mail instructions from APS to do so. Once you have this clearance, you will be issued a badge by APS and must wear it all times you are volunteering.

Volunteers that remain in the line of sight of an APS staff member (who is not a Food & Nutrition employee) at all times will need to get the supervised FBI clearance ($12). You can apply for or renew your supervised volunteer clearance online here: https://www.aps.edu/community/volunteer-with-aps . This site also provides the steps in the process for this type of clearance.

Please note:

  • No matter which type of clearance you have, you are not allowed to supervise other volunteers.
  • All volunteers, whether unsupervised or supervised, must sign in at the front office of the school every time they are volunteering at the school.

How long will my volunteer clearance last?

Both types of clearances are valid for two years from the date of issue.

How long does it take to get an APS background clearance?

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

Do I need to apply for a clearance if I am an APS staff member?

As with all volunteers, District staff who wish to volunteer (at a location and/or time that they are not currently contracted/employed), need to obtain the correct type of clearance before volunteering. This includes volunteering to chaperone a field trip. District staff do not have to pay for a supervised clearance ($12) (they just indicate that they are an APS employee in the payment section), but they do have to pay for an unsupervised clearance ($59). Any district staff who volunteers for a before and/or after-school program must pay for and obtain an unsupervised FBI fingerprint background clearance.

In addition to having the appropriate clearance prior to volunteering, district staff who are volunteering shall request personal or annual leave if they will volunteer during their contracted work day.

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

It has always been the policy that volunteers who chaperone field trips have a current appropriate type of background clearance. Field trip volunteers who only have the supervised clearance will require line of site supervision by an APS staff member (who is not Food & Nutrition staff) at all times – no exceptions. Teachers or trip sponsors may limit the number of supervised volunteers if they are not able to provide this level of supervision.

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 going on a field trip with your child. Please note that field trips are still learning time for students and both teachers and volunteers are there to support both safety and learning. Teachers must focus on the children and cannot supervise anyone who is not a student or supervised volunteer. For the safety and learning of your child and all children, and to abide by state law, it’s required that anyone on a field trip have an approved volunteer clearance.

Isn’t it my right to be able to go with 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 them to take part. You are still encouraged to volunteer with the appropriate background clearance.

If I can’t accompany my child, are they 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. The district attendance policy will be in effect, so if your child does not go, or does not stay at the school having a different learning opportunity, they will be considered absent.

If I go to where the field trip is so that I can keep an eye on my child, how can the school system keep me from being there?

You have every right to be in public places, but State law and APS guidelines require you to keep a distance from the school group and not interact with them unless you are assigned as a volunteer on the trip (and thus have a clearance). If you engage with the group, you will be asked to “sign out” your child from the field trip and school day, just as you would do if you picked up your child early from school. Your child would not be able to sign back in during the field trip or get 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 give you a refund would be handled on a case-by-case basis by the school Principal.

Can my child's sibling or other children attend the field trip?

No. APS policy states that non-school aged children and siblings shall not be allowed to attend the trip, since chaperones will need to provide full attention to the students on the trip. Volunteers must be at least 13 years of age, have a current APS background clearance and obtain approval to attend field trips. 

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

Not at all. We value your participation in your child’s school. We highly encourage all families to be engaged in their children’s learning and in school events and activities like 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 their attendance, academics and/or class rules and expectations.

Can I still volunteer and get a clearance if I don’t have a social security number?

Probably. The volunteer application form requires a social security number but if you do not have one, you can still apply for a clearance by calling the APS background clearance department’s Applicant Processing at 505-889-4820 for assistance in filling out the clearance application.

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

Although you will need to present a government issued picture identification to verify your identity to apply for an unsupervised clearance and/or to confirm your identity at the school, neither required the identification to be a driver’s license.

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

Individuals between the ages of 13-17, may volunteer if they meet all of the criteria for volunteering. Individuals between the ages of 13-17 must have parental/legal guardian consent to apply for either type of clearance. When being fingerprinted for an unsupervised volunteer clearance a parent/legal guardian must be present to grant their permission.

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 and they must be in the line of sight of an APS employee at all times. Examples of guests and visitors include, but are not limited to:

  • Guest/resource speakers.
  • One-time appearance for school or classroom events like a literacy day or play day.
  • Family members who attend school to eat lunch.
  • Visitors for a one-time family involvement activity with their student.
  • Family members dropping off items for their students at the school.
  • Vendors making a delivery.

If I have a question about volunteering, who should I contact?

You should first contact the school volunteer coordinator, clerk or school principal. You can also contact volunteer.programs@aps.edu.