A while back I filed an open records request for information about the administrative regulations (AR) that the district often talks about. This went better than last time although it did take a month. Ms. Elias was able to point me to the right place to find what I was looking for. It makes more sense to have the board secretary answering open records requests than the HR director.
The AR’s now live in the BoardDocs policy tab. From there click on the policies tab (top right on my screen). Most of what’s listed here are the traditional board policies that have always lived there, but the district has started posting the administrative regulations too. For instance, policy 218 (Student Discipline) is followed by 218-AR, which is the administrative regulation that accompanies it and has, in this case, the discipline charts for what the consequences are for what infractions. Some of these AR’s, like 338-AR (Sabbatical Leave) seem to largely consist of material removed from the old board policy 338. Here’s a current list of AR’s in Board Docs:
- 218-AR (Student Discipline)
- 218.2-AR (Terroristic Threats / Acts)
- 221-AR (Dress and Appearance)
- 237-AR (Electronic Devices)
- 247-AR (Hazing)
- 249-AR (Bullying)
- 330-AR (Overtime)
- 338-AR (Sabbatical Leave)
- 349-AR (Resignation)
It’s not many so far, but they’ve been drafting many over the past year or so. You can still find some typos. There’s something wrong with the Hazing AR, it’s listed before instead of after the accompanying board policy, and the board policy has a 1., 2., 3., 4., 5., 6. with no text hanging around at the end of it.
Also attached to BoardDocs are a number of administrative guidelines, which seem poorly named as most of them are pdfs, forms, charts or other appendix-kinds of information. I asked a board member about it and she replied to me saying that the terms administrative regulations and administrative guidelines are interchangeable. But the two do seem to have different purposes as they currently exist. Guidelines seems like the wrong term here, maybe they can be converted into appendixes or attachments or something else. Examples of AGs include 103-AG-1 Report Form for Complaints of Discrimination in School and Classroom PracticesClassroom Practices. They seem to have an extra classroom practices there in the title for that one, but it’s simply a complaint form. Another example is 707-AG-1 Use of School Facilities – Fee Schedule, which has the list of fees that the district charges for use of school property (it looks like they’re still the old ones). Another example is 204-AT-1 – Attach A (Attendance – 3rd Unexcused Absence) which is listed as an attachment. There’s a single appendix for policy 815 (Acceptable use of Networks…), but it seems to be a unique exception explicitly mentioned in board policy 815.
A minor complaint here is that besides the AG or AR in the policy ID, there’s little that clearly denotes whether a policy is a board policy or an administrative regulation, which I can see confusing people about who they need to address questions or concerns to. At the top of each is a Book, Section, Title, Code and Status. Maybe to that, they could add Type or something to list what kind of policy it is. But overall, it’s a good to have these regulations posted publicly in a place that’s easy to find your way through.
As I look through these rules, I always find something that could be tweaked. Today I read in the dress code, “Clothing bearing language which is obscene, profane, racist, homophobic, sexist, ableist, transphobic, or anti-semitic is also prohibited.” Anti-semitic is listed there. But what if a child had a shirt that said, “Burn the Witches” or “Atheists Go To Hell” or something equally anti-Islamic. I get that anti-semitism is the most common form of sectarian hate in America for most of the past century, but it’s not the only one. And, because this is now in an administrative regulation and not a board policy, presumably it can be changed without board action.
Is that good though? It means this issue could be easily addressed, but a future administration could, if they wished, removed the homophobic part of the line above without the public likely to notice. Changes to AR’s should be required to be noted somewhere in the school board meetings, even if board action isn’t necessary. Otherwise it could be hard for the public to track when something changes in these AR’s.