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TDSB to spend more time studying police checks for volunteers

Hopes to have policy in place for 2014-15 school year

There's no need to sprint to get a police check so you can chaperone your kid's field trip, not yet anyway.

Trustees with the Toronto District School Board have voted to spend more time laying out who exactly needs the greenlight from police in order to pitch in at their local school.

TDSB spokesperson Shari Schwartz-Maltz says this isn't a dramatic shift for the board though, just a move to enshrine in policy what is already part of their protocol.

She says the vast majority of the board's 35, 000 volunteers have been through a criminal check.

But right now the determination of who is a volunteer--someone who would need police clearance---and who is a guest--someone who wouldn't need one--is up to principals' discretion.

"I think we need to do a little more work on the definitions, and that's why it's going back to committee", says Schwartz-Maltz.

The distinction between volunteer seems to lie in whether or not the adult is alone with students. Schwartz-Maltz says a visiting speaker, or a mom or dad selling hot dogs at a fun fair don't need criminal reference checks. But she suggests parents who offer to lead a reading group or help with a class outing would.

"When you're on a field trip, sometimes you take a kid to the bathroom. It doesn't take very long for something to happen."

Schwartz-Maltz stresses that the TDSB helps with parents through the police check process. Forms are submitted directly through the school office rather than at police headquarters and in some cases the school will cover the $15 fee. Toronto Police are considering raising the cost of a clearance to $20.

The TDSB plans to have the policy firmed up in time for the 2014-15 school year.

RELATED: WATCH: TDSB shoots down anti-nudity Pride motion

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