Mid-Prairie School District Aims To Have New Volunteer Policy By August

Jun 12, 2018

Officials at an Eastern Iowa School District hope to have new policies in place by this August, after letting a convicted sex offender volunteer in the district. 

Credit Mid-Prairie Community School District / https://www.mphawks.org/midprairie-high-school

A team of more than 30 former and current teachers, active and retired law enforcement, elected officials, child protective services workers and lawyers is at work developing a new volunteer policy for the Mid-Prairie School District.

Ryan Schlabaugh co-chairs the group drafting the changes. He said it's worth taking the extra months in order to develop a sound policy.

"I think the goal is to get it right," Schlabaugh said. "We can rush this thing through and have a document and put it in front of the school board very quickly. But it's not going to be a document that's been vetted."

In April the Des Moines Register revealed officials had been letting a convicted sex offender volunteer in the district since 2015. Trent Yoder had been removed from the state's sexual offender registry in 2008, following a conviction of exploitation of a minor. Following a background check, district Superintendent Mark Schneider became aware of  Yoder's history. After recieving letters of support for Yoder, Schneider decided to allow him to build theatre sets and chaperone field trips for the district, so long as Yoder was never alone with children.

Schlabaugh said other school systems are watching this process, and may even adopt parts of the district's new policy.

"As we move forward and implement a policy here in August and September, that's going to be looked at by attorneys and other administrators as to how can that be implemented into our school district to better protect our students, in any district in Iowa," Schlabaugh said.

Based on the committee's work so far, school board officials said the rules are on track for a final vote before the board on August 27th, two days after the fall semester starts.