Friday, April 6, 2007
CORI rules in the way of expanding events for teens
The Carlisle Youth Commission (CYC) is considering expanding activities for the town's youth, according to Chair Lori Canavan. Currently the commission provides Friday Night Live (FNL) for middle school students. Its charter would allow a broader definition of tasks, including more events for middle school, and even high school students. But the difficulty of accessing CORI (criminal offender record information) for Carlisle School parents is limiting the volunteer force the organization can call on. As a result, the CYC may reconsider its current independence and look into becoming part of the Recreation Commission.
On March 27, Canavan attended a Selectmen's meeting to voice concerns with the CORI system. According to a Massachusetts law passed in 2002, "Any entity or organization primarily engaged in providing activities or programs to children 18 years of age or less that accepts volunteers shall obtain all available criminal offender record information from the criminal history systems board prior to accepting any person as a volunteer." Due to high turnover in the CYC chair and the lack of paid professional personnel, "we have not been comfortable with holding this information," says Canavan, adding, "We don't want to know all this [about other parents]."
The CYC has had an agreement to submit volunteer lists to the Carlisle School, which maintains CORIs for all school volunteers, but has found as many as 60% were rejected and, under the law, "the school couldn't tell us why." In most instances, it was believed, parents had merely neglected to submit or update expired authorizations. In addition, the law requires individual organizations to maintain their own CORI files, so submitting to another entity may not be legal. "The law is very specific," said Town Administrator Madonna McKenzie. In the short term, to comply with the law, it was suggested the school might become a co-sponsor of the FNLs. In addition, School Superintendent Marie Doyle agreed that more aggressive steps will be taken to get more parents CORIed.
But if the CYC wants to add events, it will once again run into a problem. Bill Tice suggested they consider becoming part of the Recreation Commission, which maintains its own CORI files. This might provide other benefits, including less duplication in registration and web site. It was agreed that the CYC would set up a meeting with the RecCom to explore a merger, with the CYC possibly becoming a sub-group.
In the meantime, the Selectmen approved unanimously a proposal to increase the CYC members from five to seven, with the two added members focused on exploring new programs for the town's teens.
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