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Lynchburg school board votes to allow felons to volunteer

Lynchburg City Schools (File Photo: WSET)

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WSET) -- The Lynchburg City School Board voted Tuesday night to allow felons to volunteer. Under the new policy, parents with felonies can volunteer with other students under some restrictions.

Superintendent Dr. Scott Brabrand says it's all about balance, safety and security of the kids and community involvement. "Before it was a flat no. Now we'll really look at whether they meet the conditions of this advised policy," explained Brabrand.

Two conditions must be met before a felon can volunteer.

First, it has to be five years after a conviction; and second, a felon cannot volunteer if they've been charged with a violent crime like murder, sexual assault, or child pornography.

Each volunteer application will be accepted on a case by case basis and other things may come into play, like whether a person had any other offenses or past issues.

Volunteers who want to chaperone field trips, read to classes, or be an instructional helper will now be able to under the new policy.

"It's not just about being involved in the life of your child, it's about being involved in an activity with other children," said Brabrand. "To really crack open the door and allow some folks who really want to serve in our schools the opportunity to do so if they meet the fine specific criteria."

One person who wants to serve is B.B. Shavers. He spent 20 years behind bars and now mentors youth. He says due to his record, he hasn't been able to volunteer in the schools, but with the policy change, he plans to.

"Men and women coming out of incarceration, they can help because they have been through some things that these kids are going through and I think it's a positive way to keep them out of trouble," said Shavers.

But he says waiting five years to get involved is still too long. "To have the opportunity to go to a school and participate, nine times out of ten, probably a hundred percent going to give them the incentive to do the right thing, instead of having a barrier in place whether it's five years or fifteen years that's going to keep them out," explained Shavers.

If you want to sign up to volunteer, Dr. Brabrand says to wait until later this summer as they're still working out a few details.

You can then write him a letter and he will evaluate on a case by case basis. For more information, click here.

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