Along with other youth-based organizations across the country, DCI and its participating organizations face distinctive challenges in the hiring and vetting of staff and volunteers. Since our programs serve young people, we must go to greater lengths than youth organizations have traditionally gone in the past to ensure a safe environment for everyone involved in our activities.
Each one of our participating organizations is an independent not-for-profit entity operating under its own bylaws and the laws of its state of incorporation, and each one has sole discretion for hiring staff and choosing volunteers. DCI does not have authority or oversight of participating organizations’ staff and volunteer selection processes.
However, the DCI Community Code of Conduct and Ethics Guidelines, adopted in May of 2018, establishes a set of uniform, standard requirements for corps staff and volunteers who have direct contact with marching members. Meeting these requirements is mandatory for each organization to maintain its participation privileges in DCI-sponsored events.
With the adoption of the new code and guidelines in May of 2018, DCI was also given the authority to enforce the new standards through denial of participation in DCI-sponsored events, among other measures. Prior to that date, the participating organizations had not granted DCI oversight or policy adherence enforcement authority.
In May of 2017, DCI implemented its Background Check Policy and Procedures (Policies and Procedures, Section 323), which also requires participating organizations to obtain a national criminal history background check for those in direct contact with their performing members. DCI will extend its background check policy to all DCI judges beginning with the 2019 competition season.
While necessary and useful, DCI has found that conducting background checks does not guarantee suitability for participation in DCI activities. For example, background checks do not include information regarding the suspension or revocation of state-issued teaching certificates. Background checks also do not provide information relating to any administrative or disciplinary action taken by a former employer that may shed light, for instance, on non-criminal misconduct involving minors. And certainly, they do not provide information relating to allegations of such conduct, when those have not been adjudicated in court.
To date, DCI has not identified a centralized or national resource that makes such information readily available to youth education and enrichment organizations like DCI and its participating organizations. In lieu of such a resource, DCI has adopted best practices governing its own hiring and volunteer selection processes, which now includes comprehensive reference checks and review of a potential candidate’s online presence.
DCI is steadfastly dedicated to the safety and security of marching members, staff, and volunteers, and will continue to identify best practices for bringing individuals into the activity despite the limitations of criminal background checks. DCI will also provide member organizations with additional information, education, and guidance on hiring and selection practices that may help them uncover information relevant to the suitability of some individuals to participate in DCI activities.
While DCI feels that the hiring and selection process throughout our activity should be in-depth and consistent, DCI also remains committed to the principle of due process and fair hiring for all applicants, and adheres to the federal and state laws that may also govern hiring in various states as well as to laws and policies involving releasing information on personnel-related matters.
At its annual meeting in January for more than 350 representatives from participating organizations, DCI will explore all of this information and share best practices for vetting, hiring, and selecting staff and volunteers including methods for ensuring diversity and inclusion.
DCI looks forward to providing continuing updates on progress for improving the drum corps experience for everyone involved in the Drum Corps International community.