• Tue, Mar 18 - 4:00 pm ET

Mom With Criminal Record Wants The Opportunity To Volunteer At Daughter’s School, But Too Bad

shutterstock_75595915__1395171655_142.196.167.223Theresa Siegler is a mom with a criminal record. Twelve years ago she was arrested and convicted of a felony drug charge – a conviction that stops her from volunteering at her child’s school. She thinks the policy needs to be reevaluated because she wants the opportunity to volunteer and be around her child. While I think people should be forgiven past transgressions, I understand why it’s just too complicated to approach each parent on a case-by-case basis.

From Wesh.com:

In 2002, Siegler was arrested in Florida for trafficking 10 grams of ecstasy. She says she was present when the drugs were sold to an undercover officer and spent a year in jail. She was 22-years-old. Since then she’s gotten married and had a daughter. Under Seminole county’s volunteer policy, Siegler’s felony conviction disqualifies her for being a volunteer.

It’s really tough luck that she was convicted for simply being there – and I’m not being facetious. I was 20 once and hung around the wrong people – this easily could have happened to me. But she was convicted. What is the district supposed to do about their policy – analyze each felony conviction to see which offenders should get the okay to be around children? I personally think it’s fine for her and other rehabilitated convicts who don’t have violent offenses under their belts to be around children, but I can understand why the district would approach things like this with caution – and err on the side of, “nope.”

Siegler says of her daughter and case, “Surely anyone who looks at her can tell that I’m not this horrible person around kids. I understand why they have screenings, I just think they should apply a little bit of common sense to them.”

She’s only allowed to help out when kids aren’t around. She’s not allowed on field trips and can’t eat in the school’s cafeteria. The district responded to questions about Siegler’s situation by saying that she could “have contact with her own daughter, but not in an area where other students are located. Based upon our criminal background screening guidelines, she is denied this ability because of a felony conviction drug charge.”

I feel for this mom, but these rules are in place to protect children. It’s sad that she has to miss out on things because of something that happened in her past – but where do we draw the line? Would parents be okay with changing the fingerprint and background check to not include parents with felony drug charges? I doubt it. Ideally, it would be great to be able to look at these on a case-by-case basis, but who decides in that scenario? Are the principals and school administrators expected to act as secondary judges?

The policy may be black and white, but if it’s in place to protect kids – I support it.

(photo: littleny/ Shutterstock)

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  • Sexy Robotic Arms Dealer

    “Vegetarian fox wants to guard hen house”

    The best part is that the felon claims she was “present when the drugs were sold to an undercover officer.”

    Puahahah

    Get real.

    • Jen Hassenpflug

      That actually is a felony though, being present when drugs are sold, such as heroine, even if you didn’t know about it. You could be at a party and it gets busted, cops find out heroine was sold there, and if they wanted to be sticky about it they could potentially charge everyone at that party with that felony charge. then BOOM you’re a felon, its something to warn our kids and our adult college kids about, it is really important you surround yourself with the right people b/c this stuff can and does happen.

    • Rachel Sea

      It’s rare, but not unheard of for even children of dealers to get a juvenile drug conviction, because children can’t refuse to testify against their family. Under the law, they are guilty of conspiracy to distribute (a felony) if they don’t inform on their parents.

      A hard-assed DA will charge everyone and let the lawyers sort it out.

    • Jen Hassenpflug

      I didn’t even think about that scenario, that’s really kind of scary.

    • koolchicken

      I think it’s a good idea. I lived in a very scary neighborhood when I was younger. The local dealer treated his “business” as a family business. In fact he did time for his son (in his 20′s at the time), taking the fall for him so his kid could keep dealing and support the family. You might think it’s wrong to charge an eight year old, but when that eight year old is doing drops and not only knows full well what he’s doing, but doesn’t se a problem with it then you’ll change your tune. There are many people who have been in this game since they were grade schoolers. Think of a drug conviction as a minor as a good thing for so many of these kids. It gets them out of those homes and away from those people.

    • Jen Hassenpflug

      This post is a little late, but yea, I didn’t think of that either. It is still a shame though, what a scary world it is sometimes. I hope for the best to the ones that do get away, and they get the support and motivation they need to change their lives.

  • NYCNanny

    This is insane. This poor woman can’t volunteer at her kid’s school because she had some E once…??
    I could see if she was a child molesting murderer… but really… E? My parents did WAYYYYY more than 10 grams of E (they were hippies.. this was way before we were born) and were fantastic parents.

    • elle

      She didn’t get arrested for doing E, she was present at a drug dealer. I guess she was with the dealer? Probably? That’s how I I interpreted it anyway.

    • NYCNanny

      No, I know. I’m not totally clear on where or why she had the E, but I still think it’s completeley ridiculous to ban her from the child’s school. Seriously… E isn’t even a harmful drug. (Compared to heroin or meth, or even coke!)

    • elle

      Ok, I’m sorry. I clearly misread your comment! I thought you meant she took E when I read it, not sold it. Reading comprehension fail on my part! Sorry about that!

    • JLH1986

      People die on E on all the time. Simply because it has less addictive properties than heroin or meth or cocaine doesn’t mean it’s not harmful.

    • Yuliya Konstantini

      People do not die from MDMA. They die from consuming other substances that are marketed (masked) as MDMA and a user cannot tell the difference without a tester kit. NYCNanny is correct, real “E” is not dangerous, if used thoughtfully. The only real danger of dying associated with MDMA is not drinking enough or drinking too much water (and one could die from that).

    • JLH1986

      How precisely does one “thoughtfully” take an illegal narcotic?

    • Yuliya Konstantini

      By researching everything about it first and making an educated decision based on that research (evaluate potential risks). I guess, I meant the word “thoughtfully” in terms of “no harm to self or others.”

      For example: In the state of Virginia it is illegal to have sex outside of marriage, but one could argue that having sex should be a personal decision. Still, one should approach the subject “thoughtfully”… imho.

      Another example: Cannabis is classified to be an illegal narcotic, but recent changes in legislation in some states changed its status to a “recreational substance.” The essence of consuming cannabis did not change, only its legal status did. Will you argue that one could not use it thoughtfully in Colorado a year ago, but now they suddenly can?

      Additionally, one should approach everything in life thoughtfully, regardless of its legal status. Since I am pretty sure legal substances like alcohol, cigarettes, and even sugar could kill, if used thoughtlessly.

    • NYCNanny

      Yes. X1000

    • NYCNanny

      E is a party drug. People aren’t popping pills of E on a daily basis and becoming E junkies. It’s a once a year kinda drug.
      Real e is not terrible for you. It has a reliviely short half life and doesn’t f you up past the few hours you’re “tripping.” I’d much rather people do e than coke. Ugh.

    • brebay

      She could have possessed it and just pled out to the lesser charge. That’s generally what happens.

    • pixie

      While I do think it’s very unfortunate, I can kind of understand why the school would say no. Had the school given her the ok, there are a lot of parents out there who would be infuriated at the school. They don’t care (or don’t realize) that ecstasy isn’t on the same level as meth or heroine, all they care about is a drug felony and “BUT WHAT IF SHE CORRUPTS OUR PRECIOUS CHILDREN!”
      The school probably felt like they were in a losing situation either way and decided on the option they felt would piss off the least amount of people.

      Again, I do think it’s very, very unfortunate and she should be allowed to volunteer and mistakes and life choices parents made when they were younger usually don’t have any impact on the people they are as parents.

    • Mystik Spiral

      Other parents at the school have no business knowing about her past. I’m assuming the felony came up on a routine background check for volunteers w/children, and I hope to gods that information isn’t made public.

    • pixie

      No, I agree they have no business knowing, but IF they found out.
      The information isn’t made public to my knowledge (and I also hope it isn’t) but if it were somehow found out.

    • brebay

      It’s public record anyway. Anyone can go down to their courthouse and (for a fee usually) gain a background check on anyone else, it’s all public.

    • pixie

      Right, but I was more referring to the school telling other parents, which I would have problem with.
      If they want to go and do their own background check then, well, they have that right.

  • ChopChick

    I could not disagree with you more.

    It is simply not that difficult to make a case by case determination in these matters. Furthermore, it only further marginalized people who have worked very hard to get their lives on track and pay their debt to society, if you care for that phrase. Finally, these is an alarming number of people out there who plead guilty to crimes, even felonies, because it will have no realistic consequences on their lives as at a they can tell–and many of them may not have even committed the crime for which they are convicted.

    Finally, what kind of a message does it sen to day that you can here make up for your past bad life choices. Also, 10 grams. That is basically nothing.

    • Tina

      Of course it would be difficult to make a case by case determination in these matters. How exactly do you envision this working? Who would be responsible for deciding what is acceptable and what isn’t? Where would the line be drawn for which felonies and scenarios are tolerated? Some people would be dissatisfied with the decision and then what? Would they try to sue the school and overturn it? What if someone were to find out about the conviction and tell all the other parents that there is a person that convicted for a drug-related charge volunteering in classrooms with their young children? It wouldn’t matter how much she’s actually changed, there would be a huge uproar based on facts on paper alone. There’s just too many factors in this issue to make it as simple as you say and it’s not worth creating a huge process that could potentially just be a lot of sticky legal trouble for schools all because one woman wanted to go on some field trips with her daughter.

      Just because it would be ideal, doesn’t mean it’s even remotely realistic.

    • whiteroses

      I agree with you completely. There’s just too much room for a legal issue here. I agree that everyone deserves a second chance- but that doesn’t mean that you get a completely blank slate. Where does it end?

      If convictions are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, someone evaluated incorrectly, and my child was harmed? I would sue everyone involved and press criminal charges. I can’t think of a single parent who wouldn’t.

    • ChopChick

      It doesn’t have to be totally case by case, but how about imposing a few criteria to see if the person should really be banned forever? Things like:

      1. Was the crime committed within the last 10 years?
      2. Is the person a recidivist (did they commit multiple crimes at different points in time showing a propensity to have a negative affect)?
      3. Was it a violent offense that resulted in or was meant to result in extreme bodily harm or was perpetrated with a deadly weapon?
      4. Did the offense in any way involve harm to children?
      5. Was there a trafficking element to the crime (arms, drugs) that show the amount of drugs or arms in question was sufficient to conclude the person was doing this activity on an ongoing basis?
      6. Did the crime involve an element of domestic violence?

      If the answer to any of these questions is yes, sure screen them out. This is what I mean by “case by case”. This is something that a school district could easily put together and apply across the board easily and would resolve fear of litigious parents and would also give people who have truly changed more of a chance to be active in their communities.

      This isn’t just beneficial for the parent, it’s beneficial for our society to understand that people do change and sometimes good people have bad pasts they’ve outgrown. More understanding and acceptance will go a long way to actually reintegrating folks into society. And this can start with a simple thing like allowing a parent who meets the criteria to volunteer in a classroom.

    • whiteroses

      At least three of those questions are subjective. It opens the door for intent. I can see someone saying, “Well, I didn’t INTEND for this to happen, so you can see why I should be allowed to volunteer! I mean, I only did (insert offense here) and SHE did drugs!” That, to me, is a problem. How would administrators have access to this kind of information? Doesn’t it open up privacy questions?

      This is one of those situations that really does have to be all or nothing. There’s a blanket policy because it’s a lot easier for administrators to say “this is how it is” versus a case-by-case that could open them up to legal proceedings.

    • ChopChick

      None of those are subjective. They are all questions that can be answered by a review of the individual’s criminal background and a reading of the statute of which they were convicted. These facts are often incorporated into a plea colloquy or other item drawn up by the court in order to proceed with the conviction (since in most states, defendants have to at least plead to sufficient facts for a conviction). These documents are freely available to anyone since criminal dockets are a matter of public record, but more specifically, they are available to the convicted individual him or her self who, if he or she truly wanted to volunteer could show each of these things. I’m not talking about a “please, tell me what you did” from the school, I’m talking about a review of actual legal documents.

      If a person doesn’t care enough to jump through some hoops, great, exclude them. But if they do, it shouldnt be too difficult for a school to do a simple check of some criteria.

    • whiteroses

      And you’re also assuming that administrators, superintendents and teachers have the time and resources to do all this. Speaking as an ex-teacher: they really, really don’t. They’re already overstrapped.

      This also, still, opens the school to lawsuits.

    • ChopChick

      Yes but realistically–how many parents with felon convictions are busting down the door to volunteer int heir kids’ classrooms enough to go through this–I’m willing to bet not that many. And how is reviewing one’s criminal background a touch more closely any more difficult that reviewing it sufficiently to determine whether they were convicted of a misdemeanor or felony?

    • whiteroses

      If you’re trained to do it and you’re in law enforcement, I would imagine it’s not very difficult. But school officials and teachers aren’t trained to do any of that and they’re not law enforcement officials. We’re trained to look for abuse or neglect. We’re trained to keep our ears to the ground with our students and alert the proper authorities if we suspect something is wrong. We’re trained to keep our students safe as best we can. Teachers act “in loco parentis” which essentially means that we are meant to treat the children in our charge the same way we’d treat our own kids, within appropriate professional boundaries (I wouldn’t kiss a student, whereas I do kiss my son’s face). We’re not trained to screen people with felony convictions to make sure that they’re not doing what they were convicted for anymore.

      And sadly, depending on the felony conviction… yeah, some parents would desperately want to volunteer in their child’s school. Which is why this blanket policy is in place. If you differentiate between felonies you open yourself to lawsuits- for discrimination at the very least.

    • Tina

      YES. This. I was thinking about this stuff too, I completely agree with everything you said. How in the world someone would even think of expecting teachers to actually do something like this is beyond me.

    • MellyG

      I don’t work in a school district, but any case by case determination leaves too much subjectivity, and then school district leaves itself open to many lawsuits. Any “here is our policy, that’s what we follow” is always better. Especially from a legal perspective

      I’d be supportive if they revamped their policy, but having such a policy is always important.

    • Jen Hassenpflug

      I agree, and most felonies committed are actually financial crimes, or drug offenses (often possession of a class A substance, no matter what the amount) not violent ones, as everyone seems to assume.

    • trw2

      It was 28 grams and that isn’t next to nothing

    • Psych Student

      Not to mention the horrendous race problem America has when it comes to jailing people. People who are ethnic/racial minorities and those who are poor are much more likely to be arrested, and when arrested, they are more likely to be charged with more severe crimes and less likely to get a good lawyer. The system flawed, and punishing people who are trying to do better things with their lives and move on from their pasts isn’t helping, nor is it a good way to encourage people to try to move past their past.

  • Rachel Sea

    In many areas, that kind of prohibition will prevent a significant majority of minority parents from volunteering. They ought to accept all parent volunteers on a case-by-case basis. There are plenty of people who are horrible criminals who haven’t been caught, and more than that who are just assholes that I wouldn’t want in the classroom.

    • Paul White

      Liability concerns preclude that though. sucks but if it’s between risking a lawsuit and this I can understand why they do it.

    • MellyG

      Exactly. The school needs to have a policy in place, otherwise there could be a mess of problems.

    • Rachel Sea

      They need to have a policy, they don’t need to have this policy.

      A counselor or social worker could deem parents high risk/low risk on an individual basis that would be a heck of a lot more accurate.

    • brebay

      Until a kid gets groped by a “low-risk” individual, and the school gets sued. No one in a school is equipped to make that determination, that’s why they have a policy. You’re asking educators to be legislators and it’s just too much risk.

    • whiteroses

      Never mind the fact that it would take months to sort through all that. There would be no volunteers to take these kids anywhere. Unfair to them.

    • MellyG

      I didn’t say they needed THIS policy, but they need SOME policy – you can’t do a case by case basis and open up that door

    • Rachel Sea

      They risk a lawsuit when they open their doors in the morning. If the district has competent lawyers, they could easily get an expert to deem her low/no risk on the off chance that something ever happened. If someone with no criminal history goes in and molests a kid, the lack of conviction won’t save the school from liability.

    • whiteroses

      Even in foreign countries, you have to prove that you have no criminal record if you want to work with children. That makes sense to me. I’m sorry she’s not allowed to volunteer, but I support the school in this. They’re not dealing with infinite resources as it is, so to add experts and lawyers to determine the validity of something that has been a longstanding policy for years isn’t cost-effective.

    • Rachel Sea

      I worked as a care provider for developmentally disabled adults. Every one of us had to pass heavy background checks, and yet I worked with people who were found to be abusive, some of whom had rumors of abuse follow them from their previous jobs. At the county facility, one care provider was discovered to have amused himself for years by using tasers, stun guns, and cattle prods on the residents. He passed a background check too.

      If administrators paid more attention to who individual workers were, and less to our ability not to raise flags (the worst abusers often being those clever enough to avoid getting caught), then vulnerable people would be safer.

    • whiteroses

      A background check is no guarantee. But at the same time— it’s the easiest and fastest way to make sure that someone is who they say they are. It’s no substitute for due diligence. Nobody’s claiming that it is. But I’d rather not have someone who has a past history of criminal drug use or criminal behaviors around my child. I can understand why parents would be up in arms about this. It’s fair.

    • Rachel Sea

      Many use it as the beginning and end of due diligence. People who commit crimes are going to be around your child all the time (because I bet you a million dollars that most of their teachers, and classmates’ parents tried drugs at one time or another, and some still use them now). You as a parent will use your sense to decide who is and isn’t safe. Schools should do no less.

    • whiteroses

      And do away with background checks, thus leaving them open to an incredible amount of lawsuits? That makes no sense.

      And yes, I agree that people who commit crimes will be around my child. But it’s not too much to ask that people with documented and possibly repeated criminal behavior aren’t his teacher or responsible for looking after him on field trips or overnights.

    • MellyG

      Exactly. A bacground check won’t solve ALL problems, but it’s a good start!

    • pixie

      Yep. I volunteered with “student ambassadors” with my undergrad university (basically a group that does first year orientation and other activities for first year students throughout the year) and even though I was barely 19, I still had to get a criminal record check and a clearance to work with minors (vulnerable persons, I think it was) because a lot of students coming in were 17, families might bring younger siblings and mature students might bring their own children.
      The university really didn’t want to get sued so they covered all their bases.

    • MellyG

      it doesn’t work like that though – and yea they hvae competent lawyers but 1) even competent lawyers lose and 2) cost money to school districts. Why risk it?

    • Rachel Sea

      Because when decisions are all based in fear of the worst case scenario, the community suffers. Schools and organizations which are throwing out the insurance company model which demands avoiding liability above all, are finding the return to common sense to be healthy for everyone.

    • MellyG

      It’s not fear. Anything that leaves too much subjectivity is stupid. It’s the same in workplace employment manuals.

      If there’s too much subjectivity, people are going to bitch that one person (principal, a certain teacher, etc) has too much discretion.

      That’s not fear, that’s just good sense. Legally, you just can’t have that much discretion – sorry

  • Lee

    She should probably be hiring lawyers to get her record expunged rather than going after the school to change their policy.

    • Sexy Robotic Arms Dealer

      Do we want felons to hide their criminal past?

    • Lee

      In my opinion, for drug charges and other non-violent crimes yes with a couple conditions. If the felon is an upstanding citizen who has not commited other crimes then it should be an option. It is nearly impossible to get a expungement of a felony in the state I am in (the govenor must issue it). Full disclosure- my brother is a felon who spent no time in jail for his drug charges. He is 5 year clean and sober and does a ton of teen outreach. He is a good person who went through a really dark time. Do I think he deserves to be able to participate in his future children’s school if he chooses to? Absolutely! High schools let him in to talk to students so it would sad if he wasn’t able to chaperone a field trip for his children.

    • JLH1986

      in my state even expunging the record wouldn’t allow her to volunteer with kids. It would allow her to get better jobs etc. but felonies still show up when working with the elderly and youth.

  • SchoolEmployee

    I’m sorry, but as someone who works for a school district, I understand the need for this district to have rules about who they allow onto their property. There need to be policies in place to protect the students, other parents, staff, teachers, and the school district itself. To me, a felony conviction seems like a pretty reasonable bar. I can empathize with this woman, but her child isn’t being barred from the school, they are not saying she can’t attend school plays or other functions, and she can volunteer during times when there are not students around; this seems completely rational and fair. This isn’t just about HER child and HER rights, this is about the rights and protection of the school community. I also agree that examining felony convictions on an individual basis sets up a scary slipper slope for the school. A slope filled with lawsuits.

    Is it crappy that her decades-old conviction is biting her in the ass? Sure, but there are consequences to your actions, even years down the road.

    • schaff73

      I respect your statement completely. But the crime has been paid for and she hasn’t had any other issues with the law for over 10 years…does she need to suffer for the rest of her life because of it? She isn’t a threat. I had a teacher terrorize my child and the school turned a blind eye. There wasn’t sufficient evidence to bring charges against that teacher and she was allowed to continue teaching. That shouldn’t have been allowed…period. I
      just don’t understand and I know each situation is different. But don’t you think it is reasonable to look into a statue of limitations for non-violent crimes? Just saying…not trying to argue.

  • Alicia Kiner

    Can the school even verify her story? I thought all they could verify was the level (felony, misdemeanor) and the type of charge. And the idea of those background checks is to show if there’s anything to say “Hey, this person may not be a good idea for x reason.” I don’t know what constitutes a felony versus a misdemeanor drug conviction. I have no experience in the criminal justice world other than what I see on TV. But, it seems to me, if she could have plead guilty to a lesser charge, she probably would have. In which case, this IS the lesser charge. Can people change? Sure. For all we know, she’s a model citizen now. But, I wouldn’t be happy if I found out a convicted felon was being permitted by the school to help out with the kids on a regular basis. I’m not even sure I’d be okay with her being a parent chaperon on a field trip.

    • Rachel Sea

      You can’t know that she would have plead to the most sensible charge, detectives get people to admit to crimes they couldn’t have even been present for, so you never really know when someone accepts a guilty verdict without a fight.

      Court transcripts are a matter of public record, so it would be easy to verify what happened in the trial, which may or may not mbe what actually happened.

    • brebay

      People who have committed sexual assault plead out to “attempted sexual assault” all the time. You can plead to any lesser inclusive.

    • Rachel Sea

      Many do, but not all. Lots of people are not offered lesser charges. It depends as much on politics and money as anything else.

    • brebay

      Well, obviously not all, did you really think I thought no one was ever convicted of rape? And it also has a lot to do with the evidence, past crimes, and whether they want to put a kid through a trial.

    • Rachel Sea

      I’m not talking convictions, I’m talking charges. What charges are brought depend on what the DA’s office thinks they can get based on the individual offender (how much money they have, how scared they are, how sympathetic they will be in front of a jury), and the defense attorney. Most charges are plead out, but the DA won’t give away more than they think they have to to get the win. DAs are elected, so their convictions need to look good to voters, and campaign donors.

      It’s just one facet of the justice system to consider whenever you hear about a conviction. A DA who is tough on drugs will bring proportionally harder charges against alleged drug offenders than they will against alleged violent criminals, and vice versa.

      What the criminal actually did in any given case is only one part of the equation, which is why you can have a person up for 60 years for firing a warning shot, and another up for 25 years for murder for hire.

    • Alicia Kiner

      In this comment, and the ones following, you make excellent points. I did say probably, and that I don’t really know how the system works. I was just pointing out that people plead guilty to lesser charges a pretty large percentage of the time.

    • Paul White

      the possibilities of plea bargains just makes it even harder for school districts to really sort out.

      You’ve got limited time and resources and training to devote to a ton of problems. Not everything gets sussed out with as much finesse as possible.

    • JLH1986

      Assuming it went to trial. If they settled before trial most criminal docs are just stating Defendant is pleading Guilty to :CRIME. Defendant is hereby sentenced to :TIME.

  • brebay

    You can’t do this case-by-case, that’s how you get sued for discrimination, and the schools have little enough money as it is. Too bad, so sad. You do get second chances in life, but you rarely get a completely blank slate. She can help out plenty when the kids aren’t there. Many parents can’t volunteer at all during the school day because of work, it’s not really a huge injustice.

  • SarahJesness

    I don’t think it would be that hard to look at things on a case-by-case basis. How many of the parents who want to volunteer have criminal records?

    • Lu

      In Seminole county, probably more than you’d think.

    • MellyG

      But that could lead to too much subjectivity , which could be a potential nightmare

    • SarahJesness

      Fair enough.

    • JLH1986

      Plus the school would have to have the resources to do that. Who at the school would have the time to do so? usually a background check is required and the information sent to the school. Requiring someone to review an entire record (which could be littered with misdemeanors) and then having some sort of meeting etc. because I doubt case by case could be decided by ONE person would take up a lot of resources that could be better used elsewhere.

  • Lu

    If they decided to do it on a case by case basis the county would have to handle them, which would result in a larger number of cases. I requested to volunteer in Osceola county and it took a month for them to approve me, even though my background and finger prints were on file, (I work at a preschool) I can’t imagine how long it would take if they evaluated it on a case by case basis!

  • MellyG

    A lot of people are saying they could do it on a case by case basis. i’m not saying this is the RIGHT policy, but there needs to be A (any) policy in place. Any time you do anything you need a policy. It might seem silly, but if you leave things up to a case by case basis, there’s too much subjectivity. WHO decides then? Maybe the person that decides doesn’t like a parent, or is a racist, or homophobic, and just eliminates people on that.

    It also opens up the door to lawsuits, as others have said. They let in a parent they deem “low risk” on that case by case basis, something happens to the kids – bam.

    It’s just easier all around to have a set policy. Whether THIS is the right policy or not is a matter for debate, but you can’t do case by case

    • JLH1986

      And because you can’t do case by case. It has to be black or white. Since allowing THIS convicted felon could mean they’d be forced to allow a violent convicted felon to volunteer. I think this IS the right policy.

  • K.

    Tell Mrs. Siegler that she can volunteer so long as she doesn’t mind if her own daughter cleans out the cubbies with a convicted felon.

    (I don’t think that Mrs. Siegler’s crime is worth barring her as a volunteer–it was when she was 22 and she’s 34!–but I also think that the district has to have a policy with clear, easy boundaries, and draw the line somewhere. If one parent gets in the crosshairs, it’s unfortunate but…tough break.)

    • whiteroses

      Exactly. I mean, obviously it was a youthful mistake, but this isn’t about her individual rights, or her child’s. It’s unfortunate and sad, but it’s not as if she’s being barred from the school. And if its district policy, then it is what it is. This is one of those rare situations when the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

  • koolchicken

    I personally stand by the district. The fact of the matter is she WAS convicted of a felony. We don’t need the details. Everyday is a new opportunity to make good choices, she clearly made a very bad one one day and is now still paying the price. I think it’s great she appears to have straightened her life out, but many do not. The district needs to think of every child and parent. If they start making accommodations here then they’ll start having to make them for other people. It’s a slippery slope.

    Personally I think if she really wants to make a positive impact on her daughter and her classmates she should allow them to showcase her story as a cautionary tale. That the bad decisions you make today can continue to haunt you for years to come.

  • QAsMom

    I’ve been a teenager, a college student, a social worker and currently work for an insurance company and am the mother of 2 young children. Anyone else notice how “our generation” pro or con says that well it was just E and not very much. Just saying. No judgment. But just maybe we should work together towards changing the laws so the sentencing fits the crime and then teachers and administrators wouldn’t have to make case by case decisions.

    • Katherine Handcock

      I totally agree with your comment about sentencing fitting the crime. I am shocked to hear that being present when ecstasy was being sold resulted in a felony conviction. I don’t think there’s any problem with a school setting a policy, but if the law lumps a person like that in with people who were major drug traffickers, that’s where the problem appears to be to me.

  • Katherine Handcock

    I feel badly for this mom, but I can understand why the school has set this policy, and while I’d love for their to be the possibility of case-by-case decisions (using criteria like @chopchick:disqus mentions) I can also understand why schools and school boards are concerned about doing so.

    However, I really am shocked to hear that being present when drugs are sold results in a FELONY conviction. That’s pretty scary to me, because that means that a kid who makes a mistake in their choice of friends gets treated exactly the same way as a hard-core, violent drug trafficker. The school may not be able to make the distinction because of their policy, but it seems to me like the law really ought to.

    • JLH1986

      Except that more often than not people who are present know what’s going on and are frequently there as enforcers. The law was put in place so that people could be charged in that instance. Plus the bottom line is having E or whatever is illegal, she knew it and was still present. Was she young? yea. Was it dumb? yea. But we all have to deal with consequences of young and dumb when we are adults. Plus in general, UC don’t arrest on the first drop, simply because it’s much easier to claim “entrapment”. Most UCs set up multiple drops. My guess would be that the UC saw her multiple times with the person selling, so this wasn’t a one time deal. Most likely anyway, there is always some wonky things that go on in our justice system.

  • schaff73

    It is my belief that if a crime was committed and was unrelated to children and a sufficient amount of time has passed (5 years or more) and no other crimes have been committed, then a parent should be able to volunteer at the child’s school. People make mistakes and sometimes, for fear of what a jury may decide, agree to plea agreements in order to resolve a case. If someone has “paid their debt” and has been an upstanding citizen, then they deserve a second chance. Some people actually learn from their past and lead better lives. I realize it is a risk, but there are violent people working with children that just haven’t been caught! I have witnessed that myself. People deserve second chances, and from the interview, Theresa Siegler seems like a mother who wants to give her child a great life and be active in that life. I think school boards should reevaluate the guidelines. I understand why these are in place, but when someone has proven to be a better individual, that person should be lifted up instead of constantly pushed down. I’m on your side Theresa!

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