Lynchburg schools will now allow volunteers with felonies

Local News

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — The Lynchburg City School Board voted to change their policies on adult volunteers.

Previously, everyone with a felony conviction was automatically turned away, no matter what the offense was or how long ago. Now, potential volunteers with felonies will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

That passed the Board 7-2 Tuesday night.

“I feel good,” said Robert Flood, a member of the Equity Task Force, an advisory group pushing for the change. “It’s something that I’m glad it happened.”

Flood says his drug offense in the 1980s didn’t stop him from substitute teaching in Lynchburg in the early 1990s, but when he was prevented from coaching basketball in 2014, he started pushing for change.

“It took a minute. It took all the way until yesterday,” said Flood.

He says changing the policy on who can volunteer at Lynchburg City Schools is a matter of racial equity, saying people of color are disproportionately more likely to be convicted of a felony.

“If you don’t look like me and you’ve got money,” said Flood, “you have a better chance of getting things dismissed, throw it out.”

He says with his experience he can guide students in the right direction.

“When you have came up in the kind of environment or came up in an area where it was projects, you can understand and relate to the way some of these kids came up.”

Many on the Board agree.

“One of the things we’re really trying to do with changing the volunteer policy and increasing the pool is we really want to establish in the future a dynamic mentoring program,” said Board member Robert Brennan during the meeting.

Some resisted to the end.

“I still have a great deal of concern about the workload that we’re putting on our administrators and our teachers,” said Board Chair Susan Morrison, one of the two “no” votes. “I have a concern that parents don’t have a say in this.”

“You’ve got to forgive,” said Flood. “Give a person a chance.”

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