The Board of Education is set to hold a public hearing on a revised version of the district’s Code of Conduct at the next board meeting on Nov. 8.
“We have been working on this for several months and we’re at the point now where we’re prepared to present it to the public,” Schools Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Gallagher said at the Oct. 11 school board meeting.
After 18 months of deliberating, the revised version of the code was posted on the district’s website to allow for parents, students and staff members to review it. It can be found at https://bit.ly/2OGNHuC.
“We did spend a lot of time throughout the spring of last year surveying students and staff about changes that they want to see,” said trustee Maureen Vrona. “I think it behooves everyone to read it.”
Vrona encouraged people to bring questions to the next meeting. “That would be the time to raise them,” she said. School officials said the district reviews the code each year.
School Board President Dr. Dennis Ryan raised a few concerns, including adding language to the definition of a “school function” to include events and activities that take place off of school property. Secondly, he asked that the definition of a “violent student” includes a student that commits an act of violence upon a school employee, or attempts to do so “on a school bus.”
Ryan also asked that the list of qualifying “weapons” include “3D” guns, among other kinds, and that “cooperate with school authorities in the investigation of incidents of violence or threat of violence” be added under the list of student responsibilities. He also suggested adding “synthetic versions” to the section that defines prohibited conduct, including possessing, consuming and selling drugs and alcohol.
“It was very comprehensive and I know it must’ve been like watching paint dry for the committee,” Ryan said, referring to the district’s Policy Review Committee, “but I do thank you for your efforts and I just would like those points to be considered in terms of policy.”
Additionally, Gallagher introduced the district’s new policies on meal charging and prohibition against meal shaming, which were only slightly changed.
“We’re doing this because New York State is requiring us to do it,” Vrona said. “We had a fine meal charging and prohibition against meal shaming policy in place, and the state just decided that they want their language in the policy, so it’s really not significantly different.”
The district also adopted a new policy on sexual harassment as required by the state Education Department, though the district already had one in place. The state is requiring all districts to adopt a model policy that complies with the law, Vrona said, and the changes are mostly associated with employee training.
“This policy that is being adopted tonight is awful,” she said. “It’s just awfully written. My recommendation, as the chair of the policy committee, is that we adopt this tonight because New York State has said we must adopt it by tonight, but that it immediately goes back to the policy committee for revision.”
School officials said the committee would review the district’s policy and compare it to that of Erie 1 BOCES, an agency that provides services to schools and communities in New York, before finalizing.