Editorial: Don’t charge volunteers

After passing through a committee, the D.C. City Council is set to consider a bill requiring all volunteers in the District’s public schools to be fingerprinted and subjected to an FBI background check. The most egregious component to this piece of legislation is its stipulation requiring volunteers to foot the $40 bill for such services. Such a proposal, while helping to ensure the safety of D.C. public school children from sexual predators and other violent criminals, could potentially serve as a disincentive for college students to continue volunteering.

Few can dispute the legitimate desire of D.C. residents to ensure those individuals working with their children are not violent criminals. What is disconcerting, however, is that the city could potentially be asking people willing to give up their time – without compensation – to pay for the privilege of volunteering in a place in desperate need of help. If the taxpayers deem such a process necessary, they should foot the bill for the services.

District schools are in desperate need of committed individuals willing to invest time in helping children. Forcing them to pay for the ability to volunteer jeopardizes the continued substantial turnout of quality people to help. The loss of such individuals would only be to the detriment of the children they seek to help.

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