WSSD Policies Feb 2023

I’ve heard the policy committee held a long meeting last week with many in attendance, which was dominated by discussions of policy 206. Policy 206 is the policy that determines which of the elementary schools children are sent to. The summary of the meeting posted by the district is available here. It has links to the agenda and presentation, but the summary contains the bulk of the information. The summary leaves it a little vague about which direction the policy is going,

The Policy Committee asked Dr. Marseille and the administration to present parameters in the draft of Policy 206 and/or the Administrative Regulations, for parents to have school-aged siblings remain in their neighborhood school. Dr. Marseille and Dr. Conley will share the draft language of these parameters at the February Policy Committee Meeting.

The concerns of the parents could be addressed in policy while leaving the exact catchment boundaries up to the administration. The board seems resistant to making it clear in policy that, for instance, siblings must be allowed to attend the same school. Or that boundaries should be published, or that they should adhere to historical or contiguous boundaries as much as possible. The idea that these rules should live in administrative regulations, where they could later be changed without public comment or even awareness, is unreasonable. The point of policy is to set the guidelines for administrative regulations. The board should put those guardrails in place to prevent future strife.

Second Readings of Other Policies

Meanwhile, the committee also went through the second readings of a set of other policies. As a reminder, since the board changed it from three readings to two, this is the last step before final approval of these policies later this month. From policy 003,

The Board shall exercise its rule-making power by adopting Board procedures and policies for the organization and operation of the School District. Those procedures and policies which are not dictated by the statutes, or regulations of the State Board, or ordered by a court of competent authority, may be adopted, amended or repealed at any meeting of the Board [A], provided the proposed adoption, amendment or repeal shall have been proposed and considered in two (2) policy meetings and recommended for adoption at a business meeting.

The policy drafts, presentation and policy committee summary can all be found in board docs under the policy committee tab. This is a big improvement! We have the draft versions weeks before the board meeting. They aren’t all that long, so its plenty of time to read through them.

Up for approval later this month are policies 205, 330, 338, 338.1 and 349.

Policy 205 removes the ability for postgraduate students to continue to attend school after age 21. This might seem like a strange rule, but it affects people like my brother in law. He is on the spectrum and continued vocational education with his school district after graduation to prepare him to live independently. While the district claims the importance of equity and inclusion, the policy it’s preparing to adopt impacts some of the most vulnerable in our society. The previous policy, however, was vaguely worded as to under what circumstances postgraduate students would be supported – there’s a good chance the answer was never anyway.

Policy 330 removes most of the overtime language and leaves it to the superintendent to set the exact rules within the guidelines of applicable law and collective bargaining agreements. The existing policy seemed needlessly fiddly.

Policy 338.1 is entirely removed and policy 338 is rewritten to incorporate what was there. This policy has to do with leaves for professional development or health reasons. This simplifies the policy that existed before, but you’d have to ask the teacher union if it’s better. The details are, like elsewhere, relegated to administrative regulations.

Policy 349 regarding resignations is likely a response to the last human resources director. This allows the superintendent to accept resignations without board action. Under this policy people can be terminated faster since there’s no need to wait for a board meeting (or call a special meeting). The downside is that I don’t see any requirement that the board be made aware of these resignations. This could reduce awareness by the public of adverse situations in the school district, such as the circumstances around the previous human resource director. Although I continue to hear rumors about his conduct, we are still stuck with chasing rumors to find out the extent of the damage he caused to our district. To improve oversight, this draft policy could be modified to require the superintendent to notify the board of any resignations he accepts at the next board meeting.

First Readings of Future Policies

Because of the lengthy discussions of policy 206, the first readings of the other policies listed seems to have been delayed. Policy 200 is enrollment of students which seems designed to make it harder for students with separated parents to enroll in the district. It also adds language about support for those needing translation help and emancipated minors. Policy 211 has to do with insurance and provides more detail than the existing policy. Policy 219 is the student complaint policy. I have concerns about this. The complaint process should be publicly available in policy not buried in administrative regulations as this proposes. Policy 815 regards computer usage and has been entirely rewritten. That makes sense, a lot of technology has changed in the 13 years since the last policy was modified. This policy needs redrafting. It is a hard to parse wall of text right now (but it’s only a first reading so hopefully it’ll be cleaned up some). Reading through this would probably be a blog post of its own and this one is already too long.

Categories: Government, WSSD