For this holiday season, DeSoto County school officials are waiving a requirement that Santa Claus have liability and workers’ compensation insurance coverage before he can pay a visit to area campuses.
District officials tell The Commercial Appeal that volunteer Santas are getting a break. Such visits by Santa are a regular part of holiday festivities at area schools, where parties, concerts and appearances by students at functions are a regular part of the season.
“If they’re professionals – they run their own Santa business – then I don’t think it’s unfair to require insurance,” said school district attorney Keith Treadway. “But if it’s a volunteer, we’d like to have the right to waive requirements.
“An issue we’ve come up with is that a lot of our elementary schools have Santas come in. Now, while some of these Santas are professionals and have all the insurance, some are volunteers who get paid in gift cards and that sort of thing,” he said.
Treadway said there needed to be an exception that would allow these volunteers, who were just trying to do something nice for the school, to play their Santa role without the usual insurance requirements.
He said background checks would still be conducted as required for all non-school district employees working on school campuses.
School board members agreed this week that a waiver was in order.
Treadway said he and school officials are working on an updated policy on liability and workers’ comp coverage, and he hopes the new policy will be in place by the next holiday season.
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