Grapevine-Colleyville ISD trustees voted 6-1 Dec. 11 to approve an addition to an existing policy and adopt a new policy that will allow volunteer chaplains to serve at the district.

The backstory

Before the board voted on the resolution, Superintendent Brad Schnautz informed the audience why the board was taking action on it.

“Senate Bill 763 was passed by the 88th Legislature this past summer and requires each school board [in Texas] to take a record vote on whether to adopt a policy authorizing a campus of the district to employ or accept as a volunteer a chaplain under education code Chapter 23,” Schnautz said.

According to district documents, Section 23.001 of the Texas Education Code permits a school district to employ or accept as a volunteer a chaplain to provide support, services and programs for students as assigned by the board of trustees of the school district.

In accordance with Section 23, Schnautz said that district officials considered the district’s policies and procedures and recommended an addition to one policy and the creation of a new policy.

The details

As part of her review of the two policies, Chief Operations Officer Paula Barbaroux said that board policy DP Local is an existing policy that addresses the qualifications of school counselors.

“The recommendation is to clarify that the district will continue to staff counseling positions as it has in the past with individuals who are qualified on the basis of being a school counselor,” Barbaroux said. “The district will not treat differently an applicant who is also a chaplain, just as with any other district position.”

A closer look

Barbaroux went on to clarify the section of DP Local that pertains to chaplains.

“'The board of trustees does not permit the district or its campuses to employ an individual to serve as a chaplain,' I think that’s pretty clear and specific language,” Barbaroux said.

She added that the district or its campuses are permitted to employ an individual considered a chaplain in an open position if the individual otherwise meets all criteria for the open position.

Diving in deeper

In terms of the new policy, GKG Local, Barbaroux said that the basis of the policy is the district’s long-standing practice for school volunteers. She said that the role of the school volunteer in the district is unchanged and continues to require an application and a criminal history review prior to approval to fill campus directed volunteer roles.

“Because of this legislative change, at the direction of counsel, we decided that it was time to put it into policy,” Barbaroux said.

District documents state that under the new policy: “district volunteers shall work directly under the supervision of the campus principal or a district employee in whose building they are assigned. Volunteers shall not be used to usurp, diminish or replace the position or functions of salaried professional or paraprofessional employees.

"Individuals who are considered chaplains may apply to serve as volunteers for available volunteer roles through the district’s volunteer procedures and guidelines. Individuals who are considered chaplains who apply to serve as volunteers in the district are subject to the same eligibility requirements for volunteer service as individuals not considered chaplains.”