Published by MARE, September 2013
As another school year starts, here are a few reminders of things that should be done to help ensure a smooth and successful school year.
Review Board Policies and Regulations
If your District has a web page, are all of your board policies and regulations posted on the page? Missouri statute requires that they be. In addition, are all of the policies and regulations posted the current ones your Board has approved? When a policy or regulation requires your District to customize or fill in information, has that been done and is that information accurate and up-to-date? For example, check your District’s nondiscrimination and harassment policies to ensure that the compliance officer information is current. Also, make sure that your District’s Notice of Nondiscrimination Policy is prominently displayed on your District’s web page, as well as in each school building. The Notice of Nondiscrimination Policy should also be included in your employee and student handbooks.
Review Employee and Student Handbooks
Read through your employee and student handbooks to make sure that everything is current and accurate. In addition, compare your handbooks to your board policies. They need to be consistent. For example, does the Student Discipline Code in your student handbook match what is provided in your policy? Is the attendance policy in your student handbook the same as your board policy? Oftentimes handbooks get updated year-to-year while board policies stay the same and then when it comes time to enforce what it is the handbook, the differences can be a problem for the District. Get any updates needed to your board policies made and approved by your Board in advance, or modify your handbooks if needed, to avoid this issue. Don’t forget to have students, parents and employees sign statements saying they have received and reviewed the handbooks and agree to abide by them. In particular, it is important to have students sign a receipt of the school’s discipline code and for both employees and students to acknowledge receipt of the District’s acceptable technology use policy. Include the Drug-Free Workplace policy in all employee handbooks and the Drug-Free Schools policy in the student handbooks. Provide all parents and eligible students with the annual Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) Notice of Rights and if your District has designated directory information for students, their annual notification regarding same.
Train, Train, Train
As you know, Missouri statute and your board policies require extensive training of your employees and sometimes students. Listed below are some of those training requirements.
- Conduct annual training for all employees regarding the school’s discipline policy, approved methods of dealing with acts of school violence, disciplining students with disabilities; and instruction in the necessity and requirements for confidentiality. Ensure all school personnel are properly trained regarding seclusion and restraint of students.
- Ensure that both employees and students received training regarding bullying and the District’s bullying policy.
- Schedule annual training of students and employees regarding student nondiscrimination and harassment.
- Provide training to students regarding appropriate online behavior including interacting with other individuals on social networking websites and in chat rooms, and regarding cyberbullying and response.
- Provide an in-service training regarding sexual harassment (including harassment of students) to all staff. Ensure that students are also instructed regarding sexual harassment. Ensure that a copy of the District’s sexual harassment policy is displayed in a prominent location at each building and that each current and new employee receives a copy of the policy.
- Provide annual employee training, which includes current information concerning identification of the signs of sexual abuse in children as well as the identification of the danger signals of potentially abusive relationships between children and adults. The training should emphasize the importance of mandatory child abuse reporting, including the obligation to report suspected abuse by other mandated reporters. The training should also include the need for and methods to create an atmosphere of trust so that students believe their school and school employees are available to discuss matters concerning abusive behavior.
- Remind your athletic coaches to review the District’s anti-hazing or other applicable code of conduct polices with students participating in athletics.
With respect to all training, make sure you have documentation to prove the training occurred. Save all signed and dated attendance sign-in sheets and the presentation materials.
© 2013 Mickes Goldman O’Toole, LLC