Volunteering Frequently Asked Questions

Online Application Process

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.

What are the requirements for new volunteers at Seattle Public Schools?

Seattle Public Schools welcome community members to volunteer atschools across the district. In order for a community member to startvolunteering, they must:

  • View online Adult Sexual Misconduct Prevention safety video
  • Read the online Volunteer Handbook
  • Volunteer Application Form
  • Be cleared by SPS using state or national background checks

Is this a requirement for all volunteers?

This process is mandatory for all volunteers unless they are aguest/visitor at a school or participate in a volunteer project organized by the Self-Help Projects Office. See Visitor/Guest category located in theVolunteer Handbook for additional information.

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 InternationalOrganization for Standardization’s standards ISO/IEC 27001:2005(Information Security Management Systems- Requirements), ISO-IEC27002:2005 (Code of Practice for International Security Management).  Review Samaritan Technologies Terms of Service.

Volunteer Opportunities

What is the process for getting started as a volunteer with Seattle Public Schools?

In order to get started as a volunteer with Seattle Public Schools, you will need to:

  • Choose a school—you can find a list of schools: school directly.
  • Inquire with the school about their current volunteer opportunities – see contact list here. 
  • If there is a volunteer opportunity that meets your availability and interests, complete the online application process.
  • If approved, discuss and confirm your role, schedule and expectations.
  • Ask school staff about orientation and training materials and attending an orientation.

What general volunteer roles are available through Seattle Public Schools?

Each school has a person working in the capacity as a volunteer coordinator each schooloffer different volunteer needs depending on their program. Often, schools are looking for volunteers who have skills that make them a good fit for their specific school community.

Here is a short list of the general types of volunteers that our schools look for:

  • Academic support—tutoring during the school day, as well as in before and after school programs
  • Enrichment volunteers—providing enrichment activities such as arts, drama, etc.
  • Clerical/administrative volunteers—providing office or library support, supporting classroom teachers
  • One-time volunteers—supporting family events, helping with building maintenance projects, guest presenters

Where can I find more information about volunteer roles in my neighborhood school?

You can often find out more about volunteer opportunities at local schools by looking at their website or the PTA website. When looking at school websites, look both for highlighted volunteer opportunities and for a list of community partners. Often community-based organizations provide before and after-school programming and coordinate volunteers during the school day. You can find a list of schools on our school directory webpage.

You can also call the school directly. The administrative assistant should be able to direct you to the volunteer coordinator who works directly with volunteers in the schools.

Do Seattle Public Schools ever need groups of volunteers on evenings or weekends?

While most of our volunteer opportunities happen during school hours, schools occasionally need volunteers for one-time events and for maintenance projects. Building maintenance projects are coordinated by our Self-Help Office (schools that are helping themselves to complete identified maintenance or building projects). Please visit our School Self Help Projects webpage for more information. 

Background Checks

I’ve heard that volunteers sometimes need additional background checks.  What does it involve?

Volunteers who have not lived continuously in Washington state for more than three years are required to go through a national background check.

  • Verification of continuous residence will be required if your state ID is less than 3 years old. The school volunteer coordinator will verify residence (issue date on driver license, insurance, utility bill are examples)

Additionally, volunteers who work with students regularly without direct staff supervision are also required to go through the national background check.

How does SPS complete national background checks?

Seattle Public Schools utilizes “Complete Criminal Locator Search” service provided by Verified Volunteers. This is a national-level criminal background check and includes the following screens: Social Security Number Scan, the Department of Justice (DOJ) National Sex Offender Registry Search, the OFAC Watch List, Nationwide Criminal Scan, and Locator Arrest Records Database. If an applicant has a criminal history (in or outside Washington State), this background check will notify our risk management team so we can review the records and determine if the volunteer role they are interested in is compatible with their criminal history. For example, a recent moving traffic violation would prevent an applicant from volunteering as a field trip driver but not as an office helper. On the other hand, if an applicant was convicted of a violent crime against minors they would not be eligible to volunteer at SPS at all. 

Expectations and Resources

What are the expectations or responsibilities for Seattle Public Schools volunteers?

As a volunteer in our schools, you play a critical role in supporting students. Here are some expectations that we have of our volunteers in order to ensure their effectiveness in supporting students and schools:

  • Be prompt, dependable, and regular in attendance.
  • Support and supplement the instruction of the classroom teacher—you are expected to assist what is going on in the classroom.
  • Clearly communicate any problems that arise with the teacher, librarian or volunteer coordinator.
  • Notify the teacher, librarian or school volunteer coordinator if a student confides in you about an abusive situation. Staff will do the reporting and follow-up.
  • Respect confidentiality of students and school staff—ensure that a child’s work and behavior in school are held in confidence.
  • Remember that you are acting as a role model for children.

What training is available for Seattle Public Schools volunteers?

Each school is expected to provide an orientation that orients new volunteers to the school building and school community, as well as expectations for volunteers.

There are many resources in our community that support volunteer tutors for schools and community-based organizations. One excellent resource is the Seattle Tutoring Coalition, which provides three All-City TutorTrainings per year.

These workshop-basedtrainings often include topics such as:

  • Tutoring 101
  • Motivating Your Students
  • Basics in Reading and Math Tutoring
  • Working with ELL Students
  • Cultural Competency 101

If after reading these FAQs you still have additional questions about volunteering, please contact us.