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    Instructions and Resources for NEW Volunteer Applicants

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    Thank you for your interest in volunteering with Seattle Public Schools! Whether you are a parent, a family member, or a community member, the following resources will help you prepare to volunteer with our students.


    SPS serves 53,000 vulnerable children and youth - we are committed to carefully screening volunteer candidates to ensure student safety as required by law, SPS policies, and the Washington Schools Risk Insurance Pool.

    At SPS, the volunteer application process varies based the supervision setting of your volunteer role:

    Category A Volunteer: All school and remote volunteer roles that support the school, staff or families; can include direct student contact if the volunteer is supervised. District personnel must be on site and within view if the volunteer will interact with students. Alternatively, another adult approved SPS volunteer must participate in the activity and be present at all times.

    Examples: classroom or library assistance, field trip planning, office or recess support, school newsletter editor, family tech support volunteer. 

    Category B Volunteer: All school and remote volunteer roles that involve unsupervised contact with students.

    Examples: math club coach, breakout room facilitator (in a virtual classroom), one-on-one tutor (including remote/virtual), mentor. 


    Are you a returning volunteer? See here. 


    STEP 1: Online Training - Preventing Sexual Abuse of Children and Youth

    SPS is committed to the safety of our students. Training on recognizing and reporting adult sexual misconduct must be completed by all applicants prior to volunteering.  

    Nationally, 1 in 4 girls & 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before age 18. Through this course, you will help protect children by learning to recognize and respond to sexual abuse.

    • Complete the 17-min Adult Sexual Misconduct Prevention training available at
    • Answer test questions during the training and on your volunteer application. 


    STEP 2: Volunteer Handbook

    Carefully review our online Volunteer Handbook to learn about volunteer responsibilities, rights and tips for successful volunteering. 


    STEP 3: Volunteer Application & Background Check

    • Volunteer applications are processed online. Every year SPS volunteers save 14 trees by completing and/or updating their applications online. Thank you! 
    • Once you are approved as a volunteer in our online system, your application materials will stay active for as long as you volunteer with SPS. Every two years, we will ask whether you would like to stay active, and if so, request your permission to complete a new background check.

    Note: Athletic Coaches (both volunteer and paid) must apply through the Athletic Department using this online application. For more information, contact or call 206-252-1800.


    NEW: Background checks are now integrated with our online applications. Before you start your application, review instruction under "Determining Your Background Check Type" below. Selecting an incorrect background check type will delay your approval. 


    RETURNING VOLUNTEERS: Please do not create a new volunteer application. Click HERE to learn how to renew or update your application. 

    NEW VOLUNTEERS: Complete the SPS Volunteer Application here. 

    Please submit your completed application at least two (2) weeks before the expected volunteer service start date. Background check reports take up to two weeks to clear, occasionally longer.

    Determining Your Background Check Type

    SPS is committed to providing students with a safe educational environment. This includes ensuring every volunteer and staff member completes a criminal background check.

    • All volunteer applicants are screened by SPS via state criminal records database. This database is accessible to SPS for free via Washington State Patrol (WATCH). This background check is sufficient for all Category A volunteers who have lived in our state for the past three years. 
    • WATCH does not produce criminal records outside of our state, and unfortunately the federal government does not provide an equivalent database. Therefore, Category A volunteers who are new to our state or country must purchase their own background check from our partner vendor Sterling Volunteers - the fee is usually $21. When completing your volunteer application, select 3 or 4 in the section titled "Determining Your Background Check Type". Please go to for additional information.
    • If you lived abroad in the past three years and/or don't have an SSN, please contact us so we can send you information about completing an international background check. 

    Additional screening for Category B volunteers

    • If your volunteer role will involve spending unsupervised time with students (including as a remote/online volunteer), or you will chaperone 3+ day overnight field trips, you must complete the national background check even if you are a long-time resident of Washington.
    • When completing your volunteer application, select "2. I have lived in Washington State for the past 3 years but would like to purchase a national background check."

    Financial burden 

    Every parent or caretaker should have the opportunity to participate in their student’s education. If you face barriers to completing the online background check, please visit our web page for family volunteers for information about assistance.

    Background check results

    • If your state background check is clear, you will be notified immediately via email.
    • If you purchase the national or international background check, you will receive your results automatically, usually within a few days.
    • If there are any records on your background check or your report shows possible duplicates (criminal records of other Washington State residents who have similar names to yours), the school's volunteer program liaison will need to review your background check manually. Expect an additional week for processing. 

    Please note: While all volunteers must be screened through the background check, a criminal history does not automatically disqualify an applicant from volunteering in the schools. If you'd like to know if your criminal records may affect your ability to volunteer with SPS, please review this flow chart used by schools to determine eligibility. 


    STEP 4: School Approval

    Volunteer opportunities vary by school. We recommend that you complete the application process after receiving confirmation from a school staff member who you will support.

    Before your first volunteer shift, the school volunteer program liaison must verify your information in person or through a virtual/online meeting (for remote volunteers). Please have the following available: 

    • Your current government-issued photo ID.
    • Proof of 3-year residency in Washington State if your Washington State ID was issued less than 3 years ago and you did not complete the national background check. Examples: older/expired ID, lease agreement, utility bill, school records. Make sure this document was issued at least three years ago and features your full name and a Washington State address. If your child attends the school, office staff may be able to review your child's school registration records, please note however that not all staff have access to those records. 

    During this last step, if the school volunteer program liaison confirms your identity and verifies that you selected the correct background check type on your volunteer application, they will add you to the "Approved Volunteers Roster" for that school. 

    If you have questions about your application or background check, call the school office or email the school's volunteer program liaison.

    For Remote Volunteering, see here.

    For Field Trip Volunteers, see here.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How is volunteer information protected?

    SPS and Samaritan Technologies signed a memorandum of agreement for collecting, maintaining, and storing volunteer data to ensure volunteer information is rigorously protected and meets or exceeds accepted industry practices, including specifically the International Organization for Standardization's standards ISO/IEC 27001:2005 (Information Security Management Systems- Requirements), ISO-IEC 27002:2005 (Code of Practice for International Security Management). Review Samaritan Technologies Terms of Service here (link coming soon!). 


    I do not have access to the Internet, how can I apply to volunteer?

    This school year SPS became a One-To-One district! Every student has a district issued device that can connect to the internet - parents and guardians can utilize this device to apply to volunteer with SPS. 

    If you are not a family member of an SPS student, you can visit a public library or a community center. For list of facilities offering access to computers and the Internet for free visit this City of Seattle website.

    Alternatively, you can visit the John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence where two computer stations are available to apply for employment and volunteer opportunities with SPS. They are located between Enrollment and Security offices.


    Click here for more FAQs related to our volunteer application process.