New Hanover board considering background checks on volunteers


By Kevin Maurer

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC ( — Poke your head into the classrooms at Ogden Elementary School on any given day, and you’ll find them crawling with volunteers. They’re parents and grandparents, members of a nearby church, retired teachers. They come, for the most part, to give busy teachers a little extra help.

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On a recent morning, Sonya Spivey, who has a son in kindergarten, was helping his classmates work through short books. Jay Excell, whose two grandsons are Ogden Elementary students, asked the second-graders circled around him about the books they were reading.

When people like Spivey and Excell sign up to volunteer, they learn the basic ins and outs of a teacher’s classroom and sign a form acknowledging that they might hear information – students’ academic performance or disabilities, for example – that they need to keep confidential, said Tammy Bruestle, principal at Ogden Elementary. They also check in and out of the front office each time they visit. But they don’t undergo a formal background check – something district officials in New Hanover County Schools want to change.

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