Volunteers have Shady Pasts

Friday, July 31, 2009

45 volunteer coaches from Mobile, AL received letters of termination after a background check revealed they had criminal pasts. More than 5,000 children participate by either playing or cheerleading in the city's youth football league, which is run through its Parks and Recreation Department, according to city spokeswoman Barbara Drummond. Different city parks field teams in four different age ranges.

All paid coaches have background checks done on them, but it wasn't until recently that they began checking the volunteers as well.

Some of the terminated coaches are angry because their charges are old. They've been allowed to put in for an appeal, but aren't being provided a lot of information regarding the appeal process or how long it might take.

The volunteers often work with inner city children who need the guidance and confidence their coaches have to offer. Jeffery Jones, a candidate for City Council District 2, organized a news conference with Ward and other coaches Friday afternoon. Jones said that the Parks and Recreation Department should reinstate all 45 coaches until the City Council passes a written background-check policy that includes appeal details. Jones said the background-check policy is the most recent in a series of heavy-handed city policies that are frustrating volunteer coaches. Coaches also complained about being fined by the city for tossing the football around with kids out of season, and of a new policy that requires them to get city approval for any fundraiser they want to do.



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