Parents Helping Students Cross Streets Receive Liability Reassurance

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PLEASANT GROVE, Utah (AP) -- Parent-volunteers who quit helping children cross busy streets near Valley View Elementary after being told they could be held personally liable are being assured that that is not the case.

Keri Jensen, safety commissioner for Valley View's PTA and mother of two students at the school, said she hopes Parent Patrol volunteers will be back at their posts in about a week.

The volunteers, mostly parents of Valley View students, had helped children cross the streets every morning and afternoon for about seven years.

Some volunteers had been told by Pleasant Grove police in years past that they were personally liable while helping children cross streets, and other volunteers got the message in late August or early September, Jensen said.

Since a Daily Herald article on Oct. 5 about the issue, the state Office of Education has contacted the school to assure administrators that the volunteers are protected by the state Division of Risk Management.

Jerrilyn Mortensen, spokeswoman for the Alpine School District, said risk management protects all school volunteers, such as PTA members, room mothers and volunteer playground aides, from personal liability.

Jensen said as the Parent Patrol begins to reorganize, she is looking into the specifics of the state law that provides the liability protection.

Volunteers will need to register with the district, be fingerprinted and have a background check, she said.

She also is looking into training for volunteers.

"I'm researching the statute to make sure everything is followed. I want to work out the logistics," she said.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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