This Policy is under review.

721R - Equal Access to School Facilities, Students, and Staff

Last Updated Date: 10/26/2022

Adoption Date: 09/02/1975

Revision History: 12/20/1982, 02/01/1983, 03/01/1983, 09/16/1985, 09/15/1993, 06/16/2004, 06/29/2005, 11/30/2005, 07/22/2009, 05/26/2011, 06/20/2012, 01/15/2014, 07/01/2014, 07/01/2016, 07/11/2016, 04/24/2017, 10/18/2017, 07/02/2018, 05/08/2019, 06/19/2019, 10/26/2022

  1. Definitions

    “Non-curriculum related student group” means any student group that does not directly relate to the body of courses offered by the school. For example, the subject matter of the group actually is not taught or soon will be taught in a regularly offered course; the subject matter of the group does not concern the body of the courses as a whole; if participation in the group is not required for a particular course; or participation in the group does not result in academic credit.

    “Non-instructional time” is the time set aside by the school immediately before actual classroom instruction begins or immediately after actual classroom instruction ends.

    “School-related organizations” shall refer to the following organizations:

    • FCPS Parent Teacher Student Organizations (PTSO, PTO, PTA)

    • FCPS Alumni Groups

    • FCPS Booster Groups

    • FCPS Athletic Associations

    • Destination Imagination Teams

    • PAVAN Governor's School

    • Migrant Education Program

    • Kaplan Test Prep

    • Laurel Ridge Community College

    • Professional learning programs coordinated through Frederick County Public Schools

    The school board or Superintendent of Schools may designate other organizations as “school-related organizations” if their purpose or function is determined to be school-related. Newly designated organizations will be added to the list at the beginning of the next regularly scheduled interval (i.e. July 1, November 1, January 1, and March 1). For the purposes of this regulation, “school-related organizations” does not include organizations such as the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, or 4 H Clubs. Therefore, the Frederick County Parks and Recreation use of school facilities would take priority over these groups. However, every effort will be made to accommodate the use of facilities requests made on behalf of Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and 4-H Clubs serving Frederick County students.

    “Student group/clubs” means any group or organization intended to serve young people under the age of 21.

  2. Student Use of School Facilities

    1. School Clubs

      Frederick County Public Schools does not sponsor or recognize student social clubs. However, schools may sponsor clubs that are an outgrowth of the curricula and programs. Time may be designated for these clubs to meet.

      Each school-sponsored (curriculum-related) club must have a set of by-laws, objectives, program of work or activities, budget, list of members, and list of officers. The information is due in the office of the school principal by the announced date each year.

    2. Clubs Not Sponsored by the School

      Under the supervision of the principal or designee, school student groups/clubs not sponsored by the school (non-curriculum related) may use school facilities in accordance with the Federal Equal Access Act and other applicable law. For purposes of this regulation, an elementary or secondary school has a limited public forum whenever the school involved grants an offering to, or opportunity for, one or more outside youth or community groups to meet on school premises or in school facilities before or after the hours during which attendance at the school is compulsory. The school board adopts a limited public forum so that non-curriculum related student groups may use school facilities during non-instructional time with the following conditions.

      1. All secondary (grades 6 – 12) non-curriculum related and student groups will be granted equal access to or an opportunity to conduct meetings at school facilities without regard to the religious, political, philosophical, or other content of the speech at such meetings.

      2. Meeting requests shall be submitted at least five (5) school days in advance to the principal or designee.

      3. Meeting requests shall be approved on a first-come, space available basis.

      4. Meetings shall be voluntary, student-initiated and student directed. The meetings may not be directed, controlled, conducted, or regularly attended by non-school persons. School officials shall attend the meetings only for non-participatory, custodial purposes. Designated custodial adults shall be School Board employees.

      5. Meetings may not interfere with other educational activities. The principal or designee retains authority to maintain order, discipline, and to protect the well-being of students and faculty.

  3. Community Use of School Facilities
    1. Eligible Organizations

      Responsible, recognized, local persons, organizations, agencies, and institutions are eligible to apply for use of school facilities. Hate groups are not eligible to use school facilities. “Hate group” is an organization that based on its official statements or principles, the statements of its leaders, or its activities, has beliefs or practices that are motivated in whole or in part by a bias against a race, national origin, religion, sex and/or disability.

      Requirements of the regular school program shall receive first consideration in the use of school facilities. After these requirements are met, school-related organizations and events shall have first priority; Frederick County Parks and Recreation Department activities and organizations shall have second priority; and other organizations and events shall have last priority.

      Curriculum-related organizations shall have priority over non-curriculum related organizations, and approved child and youth groups shall have priority over adult groups.

      In the event of a local emergency or disaster, school officials will cooperate with local, state, and federal authorities as well as disaster relief organizations in making school facilities available for shelters.

    2. Use of School- and Non-school-owned Equipment

      School equipment may be lent to responsible community groups of a worthy educational, civic, or charitable purpose when the following conditions are met:

      1. The group borrowing the equipment agrees to accept responsibility for repairing or replacing any equipment damaged or lost while in its possession;

      2. The equipment is not both unusually expensive and subject to easy damage;

      3. The equipment is in good condition;

      4. The group will provide a competent operator(s) for any machine lent and will provide all training on the setup, use, and breakdown of the equipment. If outside equipment is approved and brought to the facility, the community group will provide competent operator(s) who have been trained on setup, use, and breakdown of said equipment. Whenever an event is held on school property that requires the erection of a temporary structure of some type (a booth, amusement ride, etc.), the group is responsible for ensuring that any permits required by state code and local ordinance have been obtained.

      5. At the discretion of the principal, an organization may be required to pay the designated hourly rate for a school employee to operate school- or non-school-owned equipment.

      6. Equipment that is brought in by community groups must also meet the conditions listed above.

    3. Application and Approval

      Frederick County Public Schools’ use of facilities application shall be completed online. Information and directions on how to become a requester and submit a request for use of facilities may be found at under the Community tab.

      1. Permission for the use of school facilities may be given only during the current fiscal school year. Applications submitted beyond the current fiscal school year will be approved pending and will not be activated until after the approval of the budget for, or by July 1 of, the next fiscal school year. For first-time users, prepayment may be required; if so, please make payment payable to the Frederick County School Board (if a fee is to be charged) and include Schedule ID number of request on remittance.

      2. When a fee for Frederick County Public Schools staff is required, the hourly fee for hours will be calculated as reported and approved by the principal or his/her designee. After the event, the applicant/requester will receive an invoice for the incurred fees. Upon receipt of invoice, payment to Frederick County School Board for the full amount is to be submitted to Finance Department with Schedule ID number of event noted on remittance. Failure to pay incurred fees may result in prepayment before an event or denial of use of facility.

      3. The applicant/requester will place reliable persons in charge of all activities, be responsible for damage caused by the group or by others involved with or admitted for the event, and provide police protection, if necessary, to maintain order and protect school property.

        The names of the responsible person(s) will be listed under the “Additional Information” section of the online application form at the time of the request submission.

      4. Unless otherwise exempted, before any application is approved and activated, each applicant/requester must furnish a certificate of insurance to FCPS verifying public liability coverage.

        1. Coverage requirements:

          1. Liability coverage shall not be less than $1 million per person for bodily injury and $2 million annual aggregate.

          2. Coverage for property damage of $200,000 for any one accident and an aggregate of $500,000 is also required.

          3. Any policy required by this regulation shall meet the following requirements (at a minimum):

            • Underwritten by a company licensed to do business in the Commonwealth of Virginia

            • Cannot be cancelled without a 30-day notice of commitment to Frederick County Public Schools

            • Frederick County Public Schools must be listed as an additional insured and be a certificate holder

        2. The following language shall be on the certificate: "By endorsement to the policy(ies) listed above, and attached hereto, Frederick County Public Schools, its elected and appointed officials, agents, and employees are listed as additional insured under this policy and this insurance coverage shall be primary over any other insurance or self-insurance in force."

        3. Additionally, by accepting the terms of agreement in the online use of facilities application, the applicant/requester agrees to protect, indemnify, and defend and save harmless, the School Board of Frederick County, its officers and employees, from any and all claims, liabilities, and damages, including professional fees, directly or indirectly related to the use of the premises and any FCPS equipment and non-school owned equipment, by the applicant/requester individual or organization.

          If the applicant/requester plans to use businesses or individuals, hereinafter referred to as vendors, during or for a requested event, the applicant/requester shall obtain a certificate of liability insurance from all vendors per insurance requirements listed above (# 4.). A copy of the certificate of liability insurance from vendors shall be submitted to the Facilities Services Department for review and archiving.

      5. The application for the use of school facilities shall not be considered approved until the applicant/requester has received notice (via e-mail) that the request has been approved and activated.

      6. In the event a scheduled meeting is canceled, notification must be given at least twenty-four hours before the scheduled time, or a fee will be charged. Exceptions may be made for cancellations due to inclement weather. Any field prep requested shall be the responsibility of the applicant/requester to be arranged with Frederick County Parks and Recreation Department.

    4. Rules and Conditions

      Conditions under which school buildings and grounds in the division may be used for non school activities are the following:

      1. No organization may use the buildings or grounds at any time or in any manner that will interfere with the regular program of the school.

      2. The school board or its representatives must have free access to all facilities at all times.

      3. The right to revoke a permit at any time is reserved by the school authorities.

      4. Any organization desiring to move special properties into the school or grounds prior to or on the date of rehearsal or performance must obtain permission from the principal. All flats, curtains, and costumes must be treated for fire-retardation.

      5. Putting up decorations or scenery or moving pianos is prohibited unless special permission is granted.

      6. Permission for bringing equipment such as concession stands, trucks, or carnival equipment on school property must be requested in writing thirty days in advance before a formal agreement can be considered.

      7. The parking of automobiles shall be restricted to designated areas.

      8. The organization that uses the building and grounds shall be responsible for the conduct of its members.

      9. Compensation for any damage done to school property shall be provided by the sponsoring organization.

      10. Consumption of soft drinks shall be limited to such section or sections of the building as designated by the school authorities.

      11. Frederick County School Board policy prohibits the use and distribution of tobacco products and nicotine vapor products by staff, patrons, or other persons on a school bus; on school property; at an on-site or off-site school sponsored activity; or in any vehicle used by the division to transport students, staff, visitors or other persons at all times.

      12. No one may possess, consume or serve any alcoholic beverage in or on school property, except for religious congregations using wine for sacramental purposes only.

      13. The possession of a controlled substance, imitation controlled substance or marijuana, as defined in Code of Virginia Section 18.2-247, on school property is prohibited.

      14. A custodian or other school employee shall be on duty for all activities in the building. The presence of a custodian on duty does not relieve the organization of responsibility for any damage to the property.

        For outside events being held on stadium fields, it shall be at the discretion of the principal/designee if a custodian/staff member remains present at the facility for the entire event.

      15. Premises are rented with the understanding that tipping of custodians or other school personnel is not permitted.

      16. Except by special permission, a group shall not be permitted to remain after twelve midnight.

      17. Building keys will not be provided to any group except in a declared emergency.

      18. No chairs or seats will be placed in aisles, and people will not be permitted to block exits.

      19. The sale of chances on school property by any student organization or individual student is prohibited.

      20. Bingo parties are prohibited; however, bingo may be included in PTO fun fairs.

      21. A school kitchen may not be used by an outside organization unless a ServSafe certified Frederick County Public Schools employee is present to supervise all of the activities within the kitchen area. The use of any school refrigeration (refrigerators and freezers) for the storage of non-school food products is prohibited unless approved by the Supervisor of Food Services.

    5. Fees

      1. School organizations, school-related youth groups, American Red Cross Bloodmobile, organizations providing disaster relief or public health services during emergencies, and other activities providing a bonafide broad-based community service will not be charged rental. All other groups will be charged as either profit or non-profit. Non-profit organizations will be required to demonstrate status by providing appropriate documents.

      2. Fundraising activities by community service organizations will be charged rental.

      3. Organizations will be charged one-half the regular rental of an auditorium or multipurpose room for a rehearsal when the organization has rented the facility for the actual activity on a subsequent date.

      4. Frederick County Public Schools Staff. For most facility use, the organization shall be charged an hourly fee, which will be reviewed annually, for any Frederick County Public Schools employee assigned to the event/activity. If work for an event/activity is done on school time by the employee and requires the employee to spend additional time away from his/her normal duties, the organization will be billed for this time.

      5. If a facility chooses to waive or reduce fees for an organization, it will be the responsibility of the facility to reimburse any fees incurred by custodial staff other school staff if applicable.


Legal Reference(s):
20 USC, Section(s) 4071 and 7905

Code of Virginia, Section(s) 22.1-131, 4.1-309, 22.1-132

Acts 2016, c. 647


Policy References: