A Message from CUPE at our last DPAC meeting

An important message for parent volunteers to consider.

January 12, 2014

As we see the end of the holiday season, and most of our celebrations are done, it’s a time to thank the parent volunteers for all their work in the classrooms. Their volunteer time is always appreciated, and many events depend on our parents stepping forward with time, skills and resources to make special events successful.

In our district, CUPE supports a welcoming and inclusive environment, and we value our parent’s abilities to contribute their time and expertise.

That being said, there is a grey area, a fine line, between volunteerism and CUPE work. As we move forward with the 2014 school year, we ask the parents to seriously consider the work they are asked to do.

Ideally, your volunteer work should supplement, not replace, the work of paid staff. Volunteer participation in schools should complement the work of our non-teaching staff.

We ask parents to please take a cautionary approach to the assignments you accept as helper chores. Also, you should not be in a situation where a student is disclosing to you. Yet these situations are not uncommon within our CUPE world. We have the training, we are aware of the chain of command and the duties to report. And we are prepared to process unexpected situations as they arise. I often think, as a parent, would I want my own children to be disclosing personal information to a volunteer parent?

CUPE members are held to the highest standards of confidentiality and professionalism. We are para-professionals with training that is focused around the student’s social, emotional and educational needs.
CUPE asks the parents to consider the following questions.

1. Will your volunteer time result in a decrease in the funding for professional services provided to students?
2. Will your volunteer time result in an overall reduction in services to the students?
3. How much time are you contributing to the school?
4. Should this work be done on a consistent basis with a CUPE employee, or is it a piece-meal project that needs some additional helpers?
5. Do you think it is important that your volunteer time lead to permanent support for the classroom?
6. Do you think your volunteer time should be reported and tracked, so that in future years, the appropriate funding would be in place, for continual and permanent educational support?
7. Is your volunteer work a substitute for adequate staffing by professional and non-teaching support personnel?

We are not saying ‘do not volunteer’. Your volunteer time is invaluable in our district, and we do recognize the importance of the work you do on behalf of your children. But, moving forward with the 2014 school year, we would appreciate you keeping our concerns in mind.


Karen Wong
President, CUPE 3742
School District 57, Prince George, BC

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