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Board Discusses Handbook Changes

by Rachel Dickerson | June 10, 2021 at 9:06 a.m.

The McDonald County R-1 School District Board of Education, at its meeting on June 3, discussed changes to the kindergarten through eighth-grade and high school handbooks.

Anderson Elementary Principal Sarah Messley presented the kindergarten through eighth-grade handbook.

Board member John Carlin expressed concern with a policy that prohibited distribution or possession of any over-the-counter drug.

The policy stated that possession, sale, purchase or distribution of any over-the-counter drug, herbal preparation or imitation drug or herbal preparation would result in a student being suspended for one to 180 days and being referred to the school resource officer.

"Does that include ibuprofen or Mylanta?" Carlin asked. "Is someone going to get sent to the school resource officer if they had a headache and carried ibuprofen?"

Messley said she did not know that had ever happened.

Superintendent Mark Stanton said he thought that parents were responsible for checking students' medicines into the office. Assistant Superintendent Joy Hardridge said parents do have that responsibility.

Carlin said if a student has an allergy and sprays their nose and gets sent to the school resource officer, "that's a bad look. You'd have an angry parent."

Hardridge said, "We do allow kids to have sprays, inhalers, but we want to know who has them."

High school principal Angie Brewer noted the high school handbook says "unauthorized" over-the-counter drugs.

Board member Andy McClain asked if it would help to change the elementary policy to say "unauthorized" over-the-counter drugs. The policy was changed to reflect this, and the handbook was approved.

Next Brewer presented the high school handbook.

She said absences should not exceed nine per semester. Parents are notified after the third, and letters are sent after the fourth and sixth. After the ninth, parents and students meet with an attendance review committee. Students with extenuating circumstances may remain in school, and the committee may choose to extend the absence limit. They can also place the student on probation or refer them to truancy court.

She also addressed tardies.

"It's a big school, there's a lot of travel, so we want to give the kids some grace, but we also want the kids in class on time," she said.

She said students will receive a tardy card with five punches on it with no repercussions. After that, on the first and third offenses, they will receive in-school suspension and, after that, they will receive out-of-school suspension.

Brewer said the student parking lot spaces will be numbered and assigned on a first-come, first-served basis with seniors getting the preferred spots, then juniors and so on.

The high school dress code was amended to include no wearing of fishnet hose, no costumes except on designated dress-up days and no shoes with wheels on them, Brewer said.

A policy on academic dishonesty/cheating/plagiarism was updated as well. On the first offense, students will be given an alternate assignment. On the second offense, they will receive in-school suspension or out-of-school suspension.

Brewer said there were a lot of suspensions in the past year over vaping, but there were no second offenders. She said that on the first offense students will be sent to a cessation class, and on the second offense they will receive three days out-of-school suspension.

She also reviewed the policy on semester testing. She said the school could not base it on attendance during the past year because the state did not want to encourage students to come to school while they were sick. She said, in next year's handbook, students will have to have 95 percent attendance and an A in the class to be exempt from semester tests.

The board approved the handbook.

Also, Stanton said the district's health insurance policy had seen a small increase that would amount to $20 per employee that could be covered by the board if members approved.

Board Treasurer Chris Smith noted that would be a $468 board contribution monthly.

The board approved the increase.

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