Our school board endorses the use of service-learning as a teaching methodology that can and should be used by all teachers to help ensure that all students connect with the community and to support student achievement.
Further, we recognize that service-learning is an effective vehicle to reinforce specific academic content areas in the classroom, and that our district learner objectives and benchmark can be reached through service-learning.
To that end, we urge all building administrators to participate in inservice opportunities on service-learning methods. Further, we encourage each building principal to assign a staff member to provide leadership for service-learning coordination. Further, we encourage principals to include service-learning in each building's staff development plan.
DPI suggests researching other school district service-learning policies, including contacting the Wisconsin Association of School Boards at (608) 257-2622; 122 West Washington Avenue, Madison WI 53703
Two Wisconsin Association of School Boards Policy Publications addressed the issue of volunteering:
- THE FOCUS Vol. 10, No. 10 "Promoting Student Involvement in Community Service Activities"(April 1993)
- THE FOCUS Vol. 5 No. 2 "School Volunteers: A valuable resource" (August 1987)
Often liability issues may be part of the policy-setting process. It is essential that every district work closely with legal counsel to ensure a proper risk management system is in place for service-learning. A few publications that may help you with liability:
- How to Control Liability and Risk in Volunteer Program. Concrete suggestions, clear definitions, and a preventive approach to managing legal risk and liability Sponsored with the Minnesota Office on Volunteer Services, Dept. of Administration, the Minnesota Bar Association and others. To order, call toll free at 800-657-3757
- Kidding Around: Be Serious. A Commitment to Safe Service Opportunities for Young People, by Anna Seidman and John Patterson, Nonprofit Risk Management Center (202) 785-3891.
- Volunteer Liability and Risk Management, edited by Jill Muehrcke; Society of Nonprofit Organizations, 6314 Odana Road, Suite 11, Madison WI 53719 (1997) (608) 274-9777.
The December 1993 issue of Wisconsin School News offered a legal comment on required community service for students. This article was a response to the 1991 Wisconsin Legislature amending the state statute governing minimum high school graduation requirements by empowering school boards with the authority to require student participation in community service achievements (see Wisconsin State Statute 118.33(1)(c). The article responds to a decision regarding a case in Pennsylvania.