Published by MoASBO, July 2018

With a new school year right around the corner, now is the time to plan ahead to ensure your district is ready for a smooth and successful school year.  Read on below for just a few reminders regarding requirements (some new and some old) for the upcoming school year.

New Legislative Requirements

 Dyslexia – Districts are now required to conduct dyslexia screenings for students in grades kindergarten through third grade and provide classroom support consistent with the guidelines developed by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (“DESE”) and board policy.  Make sure that all practicing teachers receive two hours of in-service training regarding dyslexia and related disorders.  Look for online training offered by DESE to fulfill this requirement.

Suicide Prevention – Your district was required by July 1, 2018, to adopt a policy for youth suicide awareness and prevention, including plans for how the district will provide for the training and education of its employees.  Review your policy and make sure your district will be in compliance with same during the upcoming school year.

Board Policies

Board of Education policies and regulations are critical documents for your district. If your district maintains a website, the board policies and regulations must be posted on the website.  Also, certain policies and regulations require the district to fill in certain information, such as the name and contact information for the district’s designated officers or coordinators.  Task someone with taking the time to check to ensure all information that the district is required to provide in its policies and regulations is complete and up-to-date.

Handbooks

Student and employee handbooks are additional examples of important documents for your district. These documents should be reviewed annually to ensure that they are consistent with board policies and regulations and accurately reflect the district’s practices. In particular, often student discipline codes found in handbooks are inconsistent with board policy student discipline codes.  Distribute or provide access to the handbooks at the beginning of the school year and obtain a signed acknowledgement of receipt of the handbook from all students and employees.

Bullying

Ensure that the district’s anti-bullying policy is provided to students and their parents/guardians. The policy should be included in all student handbooks, posted on the district’s webpage, and a copy should be placed in the district’s Administrative Office. In addition, make sure that your district is prepared to provide in-class education and information to students regarding bullying, including the procedure for reporting bullying.  Further, ensure that all volunteers that have significant contact with students and employees are trained regarding bullying and enforcement of the district’s bullying policy, including the procedure for reporting bullying and the designated individual at the school to receive all reports of bullying.

Train, Train, Train

As you are well aware, the district is required by law and board policy to train students and employees on an abundance of topics.  It is important to keep apprised of all training requirements and to plan ahead to ensure all requirements are met.  Don’t forget to include long-term or frequent substitute teachers in personnel trainings. Also, make sure you keep documentation that reflects who attended the training and the training materials themselves.

These are just few reminders of some requirements and best practices for the upcoming school year.  Be sure to contact us for a full copy of an annual checklist that covers the above topics and much more.