Apply or Renew

Renew or Update Your Volunteer Application

Thank you for your past volunteer service – we are excited you are interested in continuing to volunteer with Seattle Public Schools or take on a new volunteer role! 

New: Two weeks minimum required for approval

For the following reasons, volunteers must update their applications at least two (2) weeks before the expected volunteer service start date :

  • SPS receives up to 15,000 volunteer applications and renewals each year. Approval of each volunteer requires action both by your school’s Volunteer Program Liaison (VPL) and one central office staff member.
  • Due to budget cuts and layoffs this year, many school office staff positions were cut by 50% and central office staff are absorbing additional duties.
  • VPL duties are carried out by one member of the school office staff who has many other duties.

Please keep in mind that background check reports occasionally take longer than two weeks.

How to verify if you already have an application with SPS:

  1. Go to the application form
  2. Check the first two required boxes to access the User Information section.
  3. Enter the email address you were most likely to use 2-3 years ago and try to set a password.

Steps to Renew Your Volunteer Application

Follow steps 1-3 below even if your application was approved prior to this school year.

1. Volunteer Handbook

Review our updated Volunteer Handbook to familiarize yourself with new volunteer program guidelines.

2. Renew and/or update your volunteer registration

Access your volunteer information through the volunteer portal where you can:

  • approve a new background check if expired (required every two years),
  • add or update your information,
  • update your criminal history, if applicable,
  • transfer your existing application to other SPS schools.

3. School Approval

Before your first volunteer shift at a new school, the school volunteer program liaison will verify your information. Please have the following available: 

  • A government-issued photo ID

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 their school’s “Approved Volunteers List”.

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

Leaving the volunteer program

If you don’t plan on returning to any SPS school as a volunteer, you can opt-out of volunteering via one of the following methods: 

  • Submit your resignation via an online form
  • When you receive an email from our volunteer application system requesting that you renew your application, look for an “opt-out” link at the bottom of the message and click for instructions.
  • Every two years, we will email you to give you the option to renew or opt-out of volunteering.

Expired applications are archived every two years.

Frequently Asked Questions

SPS is committed to providing students with a safe educational environment. This includes ensuring every volunteer and staff member completes an appropriate criminal background check. Background checks must be renewed every two years.

  • New and returning volunteer applicants are screened for free by SPS via the state criminal records database – WATCH. This background check is sufficient for all Category A volunteers who have lived in our state for the past three years. 
  • If you moved to Washington State less than three years ago but purchased the national background check two years ago, please contact your volunteer program liaison so they can verify and approve your renewal without additional cost to you. 
  • More information is available here.
  • If your volunteer role will involve spending unsupervised time with students (including as a remote/online volunteer), or you will chaperone an overnight field trip lasting at least 3 nights, you must complete the national background check even if you are a long-time resident of Washington. More information is in the Volunteer Handbook.
  • When updating your volunteer application, select “B. I was recruited to serve as a Category B volunteer”. At the bottom of your volunteer profile page click “SAVE”. This will generate an email with instructions from Sterling Volunteers. 

If you were approved to volunteer with SPS schools in the past but not as a “remote/virtual volunteer”, ask the staff member who recruited you for support to determine if your role is a Category A or a Category B volunteer

If your remote volunteer role will fall under Category A, no additional screening is needed. If your remote volunteer role will fall under Category B, please follow the instructions in the volunteer handbook (Remote Volunteers section).

  • 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 directly from Sterling Volunteers, 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 request a manual review of your background check by the central office. Expect an additional week for processing. 

Criminal history does not automatically disqualify an applicant from volunteering in the schools. However, if you do not disclose any of your past convictions, you will be ineligible to volunteer with SPS.

If you’d like to know if your criminal record may affect your ability to volunteer with SPS,  please review this flow chart used by schools to determine eligibility.

Volunteer re-authorization times vary by school – please allow at least two weeks. If your background check returns any criminal records, your application renewal may require extra time to process. Remember to attach your WA State ID to the application to speed up your background check verification.