Tutoring organizations under the Center for Social Justice now require volunteers to undergo FBI background tests, tuberculosis testing and fingerprinting to comply with preexisting District of Columbia Public Schools policy.
The new requirements, which have not been required of CSJ tutoring organizations before this year and are now being implemented for undisclosed reasons, will affect at least 10 organizations on campus who tutor at DCPS schools, including D.C. Schools Project and Jumpstart. These organizations’ members are not allowed to tutor until they have been fully cleared by DCPS.
Although students may get their TB test from any institution that conducts the test, including the Student Health Center or CVS Minute Clinic, all students must get fingerprinted at the DCPS Central Office, located in Northeast D.C., according to an email obtained by The Hoya.
Enforcing these policies for Georgetown University tutoring organizations follows DCPS’ policy of prioritizing DCPS tutee safety, Ashlynn Profit, deputy press secretary at DCPS, wrote in an email to The Hoya.
“At DC Public Schools, the health and safety of our students is our top priority,” Profit wrote. “As a part of our clearance process, all DCPS employees, volunteers, and contractors are required to pass a robust clearance process including fingerprinting, an FBI background check, and proof of a negative TB test before providing services.”
DCPS did not provide any further explanation as to why the policy was implemented with CSJ tutoring organizations starting this year.
The order of steps that students must take to be fully cleared to tutor at DCPS schools begins with getting a negative TB test, filling out the DCPS clearance application online and bringing the negative TB test to the DCPS Central Office to get fingerprinted. Once a student successfully completes these steps, they will get an official DCPS clearance letter that the CSJ must receive prior to the student being able to tutor, according to an email obtained by The Hoya. Once students satisfy all DCPS requirements, their clearance is valid for two years.
The CSJ is working to support organizations and students by making the clearance process streamlined and affordable, according to Associate Director of CSJ Raymond Shiu.
“It is a priority for CSJ to make the process straightforward and affordable as possible, so we are providing no-cost options for students in our programs, and CSJ Advisory Board for Student Organizations demonstrated leadership to do the same for student organizations,” Shiu wrote. “We remain committed to best serving the interests of and responding to requests from our school partners, families, and youth.”
The ABSO, which votes on funding within CSJ organizations, voted to provide $8,500 to cover the costs of TB tests as part of the no-cost option, according to an email obtained by The Hoya. Students in the Class of 2023 can use the TB test given to the university upon their enrollment for the clearance process. Additionally, the CSJ is providing student organizations vans to transport students to the DCPS Central Office.
The new compliance process creates a short timeline for student organizations to satisfy all DCPS regulations that could potentially decrease membership in tutoring organizations, according to Jinia Sarkar (NHS ’20), co-president of Georgetown University Math and Science Hands-On Enrichment. CSJ assistance and ABSO funding, however, have made the process simpler, Sarkar said.
“Though the volunteer background checks are time-consuming and have the potential to reduce our roster, we strive to work with the CSJ and ABSO to make the process as simple as possible,” wrote Sarkar in an email to The Hoya. “We will be using our funds and support to offer reimbursement for the TB tests, transportation for the fingerprinting at the office, and an incentive for our tutors to complete the entire process!”