Parents at Pelham schools must pass background check to eat lunch with their child

Published: Sep. 23, 2016 at 2:15 AM CDT
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PELHAM, AL (WBRC) - What if you were told you had to pay for a background check just to eat lunch with your child at school?

If parents in the Pelham school system want to eat lunch with their child, they must first pay for and pass a background check that cost $15.

"We have so much parental involvement that the question came up, 'How do we know everyone in our school is safe to be around our kids?'" explained Dr. Scott Coefield, the Superintendent of Pelham City Schools.

When Pelham first became an independent school system two years ago, it required a background check for every parent who went on a field trip.

This year, it expanded that policy to include everyone who enters the school and is not on staff, be it to volunteer, attend a classroom party or eat lunch.

We talked with four parents and one grandparent with children in the Pelham school system. One agreed with the policy.

Another said her child's school received Title I funds for some students and she wondered how the policy would impact those who couldn't afford a background check or undergo one because of their immigrant status.

Coefield says the system has already reduced fees for parents and even with the $15, there's been a cost cut.

As for the immigration issue, he says that is a parent problem, not a school problem.

"I don't make a commitment to bend the rules for people who can't get the proper documentation," he said.

Coefield says word about the policy has gone out through various means including newsletters.

But because it's a new policy, he says it will take time for parents to understand.

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