Seattle Public Schools

Apply or Renew

Renew or Update Your Volunteer Application

Thank you for your past volunteer service – we are excited you are interested in continuing to volunteer with Seattle Public Schools or take on a new volunteer role! 

Two weeks minimum is required for renewal

For the following reasons, volunteers must update their applications at least two (2) weeks before the expected volunteer service start date:

  • SPS receives up to 15,000 volunteer applications and renewals each year. Your school’s Volunteer Program Liaison (VPL) and one central office staff member must approve each volunteer.
  • Due to budget cuts, many school office positions were cut by 50% or eliminated, and central office staff are absorbing additional duties.
  • VPL duties are carried out by one school office staff member with many other responsibilities.
  • If your application expires around the time you need to be available to volunteer for a field trip or an event, your school Volunteer Program Liaison can treat it as approved and active as long as you work to renew it and complete this process within two weeks. Renewing before your application expires is not technologically possible at this time. Only previously approved and active volunteers can use this “grace period” for renewing their application. If your application expired in the past, you must renew it at least two weeks before the volunteer commitment date.

How to verify if you already have an application with SPS

Please visit our volunteer portal guide for step-by-step instructions.

Steps to Renew Your Volunteer Application

Follow steps 1-3 below even if your application was approved prior to the current school year.

1. Volunteer Handbook

Please review our updated Volunteer Handbook to familiarize yourself with new volunteer program guidelines.

2. Renew and/or update your volunteer registration

Access your volunteer information through the volunteer portal, where you can:

  • approve a new background check if expired (required every two years),
  • add or update your information,
  • update your criminal history, if applicable,
  • transfer your existing application to other SPS schools.

Please visit our volunteer portal guide for step-by-step instructions for each of these updates.

3. School Approval

The school volunteer program liaison will verify your information before your first volunteer shift at a new school. Please have the following available: 

  • A government-issued photo ID

If the school volunteer program liaison confirms your identity and verifies that you selected the correct background check type on your volunteer application, they will add you to their school’s “Approved Volunteers List.”

If you have questions about your application or background check,  call the school office or email the volunteer program liaison.

Leaving the volunteer program

If you don’t plan on returning to any SPS school as a volunteer, you can opt out of volunteering via one of the following methods: 

  • Submit your resignation via an online form.
  • When you receive an email from our volunteer application system requesting that you renew your application, look for an “opt-out” link at the bottom and click for instructions.
  • We will email you every two years to allow you to renew or opt out of volunteering.

We archive applications that have been expired for more than two years.

Frequently Asked Questions

SPS is committed to providing students with a safe educational environment. This includes ensuring every volunteer and staff member completes an appropriate criminal background check. Background checks must be renewed every two years.

  • New and returning volunteer applicants are screened for free by SPS via the state criminal records database – WATCH. This background check is sufficient for all Category A volunteers who have lived in our state for three years. 
  • If you moved to Washington State less than three years ago but purchased the national background check two years ago, contact your volunteer program liaison so they can verify and approve your renewal without additional cost. 
  • More information is available here.
  • Suppose your volunteer role will involve spending unsupervised time with students (including as a remote/online volunteer), or you will chaperone an overnight field trip lasting at least three nights. In that case, you must complete the national background check even if you are a long-time resident of Washington. More information is in the Volunteer Handbook.
  • When updating your volunteer application, select “B. I was recruited to serve as a Category B volunteer”. At the bottom of your volunteer profile page, click “SAVE”. This will generate an email with instructions from Sterling Volunteers. 

If you were approved to volunteer with SPS schools in the past but not as a “remote/virtual volunteer,” ask the staff member who recruited you for support to determine if your role is a Category A or a Category B volunteer

No additional screening is needed if your remote volunteer role falls under Category A. If your remote volunteer role falls under Category B, please follow the instructions in the volunteer handbook (Remote Volunteers section).

  • If your application only requires a state background check, your volunteer portal dashboard will show “Eligible” or “Pending” immediately. “Eligible” means your background check came back clear automatically. “Pending” requires the liaison to submit your results to the central office, which may take up to two weeks.
  • If you purchase the national or international background check, you will receive your results directly from Sterling Volunteers, usually within a few days.

Criminal history does not automatically disqualify an applicant from volunteering in the schools. However, if you do not disclose all your past convictions, you will be ineligible to volunteer with SPS.

If you’d like to know if your criminal record may affect your ability to volunteer with SPS,  please review this flow chart to determine your eligibility.

Volunteer re-authorization times vary by school – please allow at least two weeks. Remember to attach your WA State ID to the application to speed up your background check verification.