LCS, revise the volunteer policy

The wait goes on.

My husband and I began attending Lynchburg School Board meetings more than a year ago. We were there each month to support parents who wanted to volunteer their time in Lynchburg schools, to “give back” to the community, and in many cases, to encourage their own children to take school time seriously ... and to feel pride at seeing their parents as respected partners in their education.

These parents understand how important it is for children to have role models, and role models that look like them. These parents know this because each of them has made mistakes in their youth, and have been branded ever since.

Now they have served time, completed their sentences, had their rights restored. They are able to vote, and serve on juries. They are making new lives for themselves and for their families.

And yet, until now, Lynchburg City Schools has automatically denied them the right to volunteer.

Seven years ago, one of these parents began asking that this blanket rule be changed for persons with non-violent offenses. Since 2014, Robert Flood has come repeatedly before the board. Over the years, dozens of other people have joined him.

Finally, at their work session on Dec. 17, the majority of the board agreed to change the blanket denial. Further, they agreed that the superintendent and top administrators should work out a system by which the requests would be handled responsibly, on a case by case basis. The brick wall was about to come down!

The new path was announced at the board meeting on Jan. 14. Superintendent Crystal Edwards and her staff had done their job. She presented a detailed explanation of the process and a timetable for implementation.

Suddenly there were objections from the three or four board members who have been in opposition. “We need more details,” “We haven’t had time to think about this.” We can’t call it a ‘trial run’ ... that sounds like we’re going ahead with it!”

Once more the issue was delayed. After six years, some board members have not had time to think about this!

Last year, 34 individuals were automatically denied the opportunity to volunteer, because of a prior conviction. Nearly all were African American. Is that why the idea seems frightening to some people?

A headline in Jan. 26 issue The News & Advance read: “City urged to ‘openly talk’ about race.” I hope we can begin to do that.



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