LARGO, Fla. - Fedaa Kantar volunteers several days a week at her daughter's school, Starkey Elementary in Pinellas County.
"I feel good knowing what kind of environment my kids are in. I like to be around, I want the staff to know me, and me know them," Kantar explained.
All school volunteers in Pinellas County are required to be screened with a background check at the District's expense.
But a higher level of screening, which includes an FBI background check and fingerprinting, is mandatory for volunteers that will be left alone or unsupervised with a student. That could be volunteers mentoring or tutoring a student, to driving students to field trips.
Dr. Valerie Brimm, Director of Strategic Partnerships with Pinellas County Schools explained the need for the extra level.
"Providing an extra level of security, an extra level of a background check, it not only provides a comfort level for parents but also a comfort level for our district," said Brimm.
Volunteers are now required to pay for their own level two background checks -- about fifty dollars.
"It's fair. I have nothing to hide. I don't have a problem paying the money. But that's for me, other parents might not have the money," Kantar said.
District officials say that opportunities for the students shouldn't suffer because of the cost.
"What we are attempting to do is work with schools, with their PTAs, with their booster clubs and fundraising activities. We're working with business partners to kind of offset some of the costs," said Dr. Brimm.
For both the schools and their volunteers, student safety must be a top priority.
"On the safety of our kids, you cannot put a dollar amount. Because being safe is better than being sorry later," Kantar said.
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