2017-18 Partnership Guidelines

  • Office of Partnerships and Development

    130 Trinity Ave, SW
    Atlanta, GA 30303

    Phone: 404-802-2845


    Overview of the Office of Partnerships and Development

    The Atlanta Public Schools Office of Partnerships and Development was established as part of Superintendent Dr. Meria J. Carstarphen’s vision to create a high-performing school district where students love to learn, educators inspire, families engage and the community trusts the system. The purpose of this office is to focus on matching vital resources, as well as community and corporate partners to support APS’ goal of ensuring a better future for all students in every classroom, every school and every neighborhood.  APS values its relationships with Atlanta’s anchor institutions and realizes that it is only with the support of the surrounding communities, will we be able to graduate every student college or career ready. 

     As such, our aim is to enter into strategic partnerships that result in substantive activities.  The following guidance is provided to assist Atlanta Public Schools and potential partners in developing and implementing partnership agreements.

     This guidance also:


    • Seeks to achieve uniformity and consistency in developing, processing and implementing strategic partnerships.
    • Establishes parameters for potential partners and partnership agreements at three levels–district-wide, cluster-wide, and school-based.
    • Facilitates a process to ensure timely and efficient processing of strategic partnership agreements.


    While this document may not cover every potential partnership scenario, it is intended to be informative and to serve as a guide to help provide a framework for partnership engagement between APS and the public. Atlanta Public Schools considers anyone who volunteers their time, talents or treasures to the district, free-of-charge, to be a partner.

    For additional information, as well as questions or concerns, please contact the Partnerships and Development team at 404-802-2845.


    Partnering with Atlanta Public Schools:

     The Office of Partnerships and Development manages partnership for the Office of the Superintendent, individual and/or groups of schools, and the district at large, and will be happy to discuss how best to engage with APS.

     The process for partnering with APS (generally) includes the following steps:


    • First, the partner must complete a Declaration of Partnership Interest Form and return it to the Partnerships and Development team.
    • A preliminary conversation is held with a member of Partnerships and Development team, either by phone or in-person, where the potential partner provides all pertinent info & states “ask”
    • Next, outreach is made by a member of the Partnerships and Development team to School Leaders to Discuss and assess the need for and interest in the potential partnerships. Please note: All decisions surround school-based partnerships are made at the school level.
    • Next, the potential partner and school leader are convened to delve deeper into partnership opportunity and outline terms of partnership.
    • Next, the Partnerships and Development team works with the partner and school leader to create an official MOU/Partnership Agreement
    • Lastly, the MOU is submitted to the approval process—reviewed by the legal teams of all parties involved, and then submitted for district approval/signature of Superintendent.



    Guiding Principles:

    The following serve as the fundamental guiding principles for all APS partnerships. 

    • Partnerships are intended to advance student achievement, must provide educational value, and must align with signature learning models and cluster plans of the respective clusters.  Additionally, all partnerships must have alignment with one of the four strategic goals of the APS stratetic plan: Academic Program, Talent Management, Systems and Resources, or Culture. 
    • APS does not pay for partnerships. Organizations, companies or individuals interested in receiving compensation, fees, or a contract for services now or in the future, are considered a potential vendor and must follow the APS public procurement process. Individuals or companies interested in pursuing vendor relationship instead of a partnership should visit the procurement section of the district website for more information on how to become a registered APS vendor. Partnership status has no impact on vendor status.
    • In order for an individual, business or organization to be considered for a partnership, the program or project must already be fully funded and be at no cost to students, their families, schools or the district. 
    • Partnerships operate at the discretion of the district, the Office of Partnerships and Development and the respective school’s leadership. APS reserves the right to reject sponsorships, partnerships, or partnership activities at any time.


    Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)

    Individuals, businesses or organizations conducting partnership activities and programming are encouraged to collaboratively create a formal memorandum of understanding (MOU) between or among partners and Atlanta Public Schools. MOUs help to outline the responsibilities of each party and establish parameters for the types of partnership activities that the district will permit to occur on APS property or with APS students.  MOUs should be created in conjunction with school-based leadership as well as the Partnerships Manager.  

    You, your business or organization will be asked to draft the agreement, using the APS MOU template, and submit it for departmental and legal review prior to superintendent signature. The Office of Partnerships and Development will provide partners with assistance in getting the MOU approved and signed. Please be aware that APS has a small legal department and only final documents that have been approved by the relevant departments and signed by the partner will be reviewed. Legal will not review draft documents. Please allow a minimum of 10-20 working days to have documents approved as to legal form. For more details on the process, please click here.

    Please contact Partnerships Manager Amber Stewart at amber.stewart@apsk12.org or 404-802-2853 for assistance.


     Food & Beverage

    APS is prohibited by state law O.C.G.A. § 20-2-411  from  using local school funds or general fund dollars to pay for the purchase of food for employee meetings, volunteer events or school district events. Schools welcome the opportunity to have partners cover the expense of food and beverages for their students and staff. Students are particularly grateful when after-school snacks are provided by a partner during partnership activities. Having partner sponsored breakfast or lunch is a real treat for students, teachers and staff who typically cannot leave the building during the day. APS is happy to recognize your sponsorship on signage and in programs as appropriate.

     Partners are expected to provide complementary lunch for students and chaperone staff when the partnership activity requires students to be off-campus during their regular breakfast or lunch service. 

    District personnel requesting assistance with covering the cost of food or beverage for school-based or district-wide events should submit those requests directly to the Office of Partnerships and Development. Any partner organization that is interested in donating or underwriting the cost of food or beverage for Atlanta Public Schools functions, should contact the Office of Partnerships and Development as well.


     Advertising Policy KJ

    The Atlanta Board of Education (BOE) prohibits outside organizations or individuals from conducting advertising of any nature through APS communications, facilities or on any property owned or operated by the Board, unless it is unavoidable because of its being affixed to items or equipment having some school use or function (such as equipment, dispensing machines, and instructional tools) where the sponsor or advertising is inconspicuously displayed and/or is not its primary purpose. However, businesses that become official partners of schools may be permitted to identify their companies or organizations as such at the respective schools. Nothing in this policy is intended to apply to advertising that may take place in connection with the operation of the Board’s television and radio stations.


    Distribution of Advertising Materials

    The distribution of advertising flyers, brochures, pamphlets, and other written or printed notices in school is largely prohibited. The BOE prohibits outside organizations or individuals from advertising or otherwise distributing literature in Atlanta Public Schools facilities, schools, events, meetings, etc. except as shall be authorized by, and consistent with, administrative regulations set forth by the superintendent and policies approved by the Board.

    Photography, Media and Press

    No student may be photographed without the expressed written permission of the student’s parent or legal guardian. Students, who participate in partnership programs where photographs or video will be taken, can be photographed unless they have a waiver on file with the school that prohibits participation by the student’s parent or legal guardian. (Please be sure to check with the school prior to obtaining any photography/media/press.)  At the discretion of the district, photos taken at partnership events may be made available to the public and partners on the district’s website as a courtesy but, remain the property of Atlanta Public Schools. Use or reproduction of these materials is prohibited without expressed written permission. The Office of Partnerships and Development will work with APS’ Office of Communications and partnering public relations and marketing contacts to approve quotes, press releases or any marketing material about partnership programs and activities as appropriate.



    Per Georgia law, APS is prohibited from spending public funds to transport children to partnership activities, unless those funds and any additional insurance costs are reimbursed by private or public funds other than public school funds.   In order to facilitate off-campus partnership activities, partners will be asked to cover transportation expenses for students and chaperone staff.  In most cases, students must be returned to campus in time for their regular transportation home.  

    Partners or third-party sponsors who wish to subsidize the transportation of students to partner events must do so on APS buses or via approved APS contracted motor coach. Cost for transportation to partnership events or activities will be incurred by the partner at cost.  Please contact the Office of Partnerships and Development to discuss transportation options. 



    Grant-Funded “Partnership” Programs

    Grant funded partnership opportunities must be pre-approved by school leaders, the Chief Academic Officer and Chief Schools Officer. Entities that have received grant funding to provide services or resources at no cost to APS must be approved in advance of funding to determine whether the district has identified a potential grant-funded partnership need. Grant funded partnership programs may have additional stipulations and must meet all criteria for partnership. The district reserves the right to refuse to participate in grant funded opportunities for which APS has not expressed a need, that the district feels have limited educational value, could violate student privacy, or which may cause undue administrative or financial burden for the district, staff and for other reasons. On ocassion, APS seeks partners to co-write grant applications together. APS can also provide data, letters of support, and other supplemental information for grants if approved. The APS Office of Partnerships and Development requests lead time of at least two weeks for signatures, letters of support and other required grant documents. For more information about grants please contact Rachel Sprecher, Executive Director, at 404-802-2812 or via email at rsprecher@atlanta.k12.ga.us.


    APS does not participate in fundraising opportunities that require the district to share profits from the sale of products or services. Parent teacher associations may choose to host fundraising activities at individual schools however; these are not district sponsored activities.

     Tax-Deductible Donations

    Tax-deductible donations can be made to the district, individual student(s), APS events, initiatives or schools, via our 501c3 partnership with the Atlanta Partners for Education (APFE) for either restricted or unrestricted use. Donations can be sent to:

     Atlanta Partners for Education (APFE)

    ATTN: Jenny Jang
    Metro Atlanta Chamber

    191 Peachtree Street, NE

    Suite 3400

    Atlanta, GA 30303



    In-Kind, Technology or Computer Donations

    While APS appreciates in-kind donations, the district wants to make sure that there are no unforeseen costs associated with accepting a donation (such as ongoing maintenance, up-keep, required software upgrades etc.) and that any donations received can be placed to good use by our students or staff. Donations that require APS to provide on-going maintenance or up-keep as well as in-kind donations such as musical instruments, computer equipment, technology and other items must be approved in advance by the Office of Partnerships and Development.

     Donors will be responsible for making arrangements to deliver or have items delivered to the district’s Center for Learning and Leadership (CLL) administrative office, the school or APS warehouse as appropriate.

     If an organization is interested in making an in-kind donation to APS, they should contact Rachel Sprecher at 404-802-2812.



    In-School vs. After-School Partnership Activities

    APS strives to minimize disruption to core learning during the instructional day. Partnership activities that are aligned to state and common core standards and that foster student achievement in one or more impact area (literacy, social science, STEM, college & career readiness, and attendance) are given priority consideration. Partnership opportunities are offered at the discretion of the district and school(s), and typically occur outside of the instructional day. In addition, while the district acknowledges that there are many valuable partnership opportunities, APS may respectfully decline to participate at a given time, due to capacity, scheduling or for other reasons.

    Prior to planning dates for partnership activities, please consult the APS Calendar on the district website and the school calendar(s) or contact the Office of Partnerships and Development at 404-802-2845.


    Weekends and After-hours Activities

    Use of APS facilities during the weekends or after hours may incur a cost for custodial or security staff to open and close the facility and to provide for the safety of students, staff and guests.  For use of an APS facility please contact Ms. Carla Pennyman at cpennyman@atlantapublicschools.us or via phone at 404-802-3733. Use of a school facility must also be approved by the principal.

    Like you, our staff members have family and personal obligations, and APS respects the needs of staff to have personal time. While many employees choose to donate their time outside of regular business hours, the district cannot compel school staff to work before or after hours, or on weekends, holidays or furlough days in order to facilitate partnership activities.


    School Calendar(s), Testing, Blackout Dates and Approved Educational Value

    As a district, the primary concern for APS is always to preserve the academic, physical and mental wellbeing of our students. Just like many industry sectors, in education there are certain times of the year in which students, schools and administrative staff members are particularly focused on the core business—of educating students and preparing them to be academically successful. To that end, APS may restrict partnership activities at schools during certain times of the year including: the first 40 days of school, end-of-year closeout and most especially during academic testing (End of Course Testing (EOCT) and in April/May). A copy of the district’s school and testing calendars is available online.

    The district or individual principals may enforce additional “black-out dates,” during which partnership activities are restricted. Limited partnership activities are initiated during the summer, but it is a great time to plan for the upcoming school year or to have special activities for students in summer school or year-round schools.

    The Office of Partnerships and Development will work with potential partners and schools to coordinate and suggest partnerships with approved education value, and help partners to determine the best time for partnership activities that will maximize student/school participation and engagement.


    Criminal Background Checks

    In support of student safety, the superintendent requires that all schools and administrative offices identify and screen all volunteers in accordance with the following guidelines. Security clearances for volunteers must be renewed every two years.


    Volunteers will be issued volunteer badges, which must be displayed at all times while on school property. All volunteers must complete and sign a Volunteer Release Form.


    Level 1
    Level 1 volunteers are non-district personnel who will have no interaction with students, such as volunteers working on playground construction or assisting with facilities maintenance when school is not in session. Level 1 volunteers do not require criminal background checks. Prior to service, Level 1 volunteers will be required to sign a Volunteer Release Form, which will be kept on file at the school. Principals may use their discretion to order a criminal history name search of a Level 1 volunteer. Volunteers will be notified by the school principal if a criminal history name search will be performed by the Office of Safety & Security, at no cost to the volunteer.


    If it becomes known that Level 1 volunteers have one or more prohibited offenses in their criminal history that would exclude them from Level 2 volunteer service, they will not be allowed to volunteer.



    Level 2
    Level 2 volunteers are non-district personnel who will have supervised interaction with students. Prior to service, Level 2 volunteers are required to submit a Volunteer Release Form and Criminal History Release Form, allowing the scan of their full names and driver’s license through the appropriate criminal databases by the Office of Safety & Security. Registered sex offenders will not be allowed to volunteer.


    Level 3

    Level 3 volunteers must be approved by the Human Resources Division and the principal of the school prior to participating in activities involving direct, unsupervised interaction with students. Examples of Level 3 volunteers include chaperones on overnight field trips or any other volunteers who will have any unsupervised interaction with students. Level 3 volunteers shall be fingerprinted by the district and have GBI/FBI criminal background checks on file prior to volunteer services. Payment for the record check must be provided by the volunteer or a sponsoring organization, such as a business partner, Parent Teacher Association or the school. Registered sex offenders will not be allowed to volunteer. School administrators shall have the discretion to pursue any additional screening methods, including, but not limited to, personal interviews and reference checks.


    Exceptions to the criminal background requirements may be granted by the Deputy Superintendent on a case-by-case basis for guest speakers with legitimate, unique educational value.


    Expectations of Volunteers
    APS volunteers are representatives of the school community and role models for students. As such, volunteers are expected to adhere to the system’s core values: integrity, high ideals and expectations and sensitivity to the school environment. Volunteers must take personal responsibility for understanding the system’s ethical standards and applying them in volunteer activities.


    All volunteers are expected to:

    1. Make decisions based on what is best for students in all cases
    2. Maintain honest, equitable, professional relationships with students, parents, staff members, community members and other volunteers
    3. Observe local, state and federal laws, policies, rules, and regulations
    4. Maintain confidentiality of privileged information
    5. Support cooperation between the school and the community
    6. Refrain from using school contacts and privileges to promote partisan politics, sectarian religious views, or propaganda of any kind
    7. Safeguard school property, equipment, and materials
    8. Implement board policies in a spirit of good faith
    9. Comply with appropriate standards of professional conduct including, but not limited to, displaying appropriate behavior, language and attire at all times


    Qualification of Volunteers
    Prior to participating in an APS volunteer activity, Level 1 and Level 2 volunteers must complete the Volunteer Release Form. Level 3 volunteers must have on file within the Office of Safety & Security the required background check information. The school must maintain evidence that the volunteer has completed any required training, as well as a Volunteer Release Form.


    Disqualification of Volunteers
    School administrators with justified concerns have the authority to exclude individuals from participating in volunteer activities in their schools. Volunteers—including parents—who are excluded from Level 2 or 3 volunteer activities due to a disqualifying offense on the background check or sex offender registry may not participate in Level 1 volunteer activities. Parents/guardians who are excluded from volunteer activities may attend public events at the school such as Parent Teacher Association meetings and student performances.


    School volunteers must sign-in and out in the school office and obtain a visitor badge in accordance with policy KM Visitors to School and school procedures.


    Access to Student Information
    School volunteers shall not have access to student information, including Infinite Campus, without express written consent from the parents/legal guardians of the students.



    Date Issued: 1/10/2012


    Revised: 12/22/2017, 4/26/2018




    Policy Contact:

    Dr. Marquenta S. Hall

    Office of Safety & Security – Operations Division

    (404) 802-2007