Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A School Board that Respects Parental Rights and Authority

It always encourages me to see those in elected positions of authority working hard for families. Read on about a recent meeting:


November 28, 2011

PRESENT: R. Marquardt, D. Weigand, T. Miller, V. Elliehausen

OTHERS: R. Parks, B. Williams, T. Neitzke, A. Pauli, J. Ciriacks, B. Altendorf

The meeting was called to order at 5:08 p.m.

Policy 370 – Co-curricular Activities

This policy was reviewed at the September 12, 2011 policy committee meeting at which time revision were requested. As requested, the wording, in part, of the district’s discrimination policy was removed, but was cross-referenced in the policy. Mr. Weigand asked that the requirement for parental permission be included in the policy, not the administrative rule, since the Board of Education does not at this time review administrative rules, and he would like to see that process begin in the near future.

Ms. Elliehausen and Mr. Pauli stated that this type of specific requirement is best suited for the administrative rule, not policy. Mr. Weigand said that the policy needs to be a requirement for written parental permission and the administrative rule would enforce and facilitate the process.

Mr. Neitzke stated that the role of the building principals is to communicate to parents the expectations of their student’s participation in co-curricular and clubs offerings. Mr. Weigand stated that in his rationale he drafted, it is very broad and the board should decide if it is above or below the line. He stated that his rationale is broad enough and fundamental enough that it belongs in policy and the specifics would be administrative rule. Mr. Marquardt suggested that the rationale statement Mr. Weigand provided, which included written parental permission be the intent for the policy and how it is administered is administrative rule. Mr. Pauli will work with Mr. Weigand on this policy. Mr. Marquardt agreed that this policy should include communicating the expectations for each child’s participation with parents, but that the administrative rule should define the process. Mr. Weigand agreed that as long as parents understand and give written consent he could go along with that for policy, with administrative rule writing specifics to enforce policy. This policy will be brought back to this committee in January for further review.

Policy 333 – District Programs/Activities

At the September 12th policy committee meeting, Mr. Weigand asked that district administration review the Cedarburg School District’s policy regarding this subject. Mr. Pauli reviewed Cedarburg’s policy and shared the differences between their policy and the West Bend School District’s current policy and concluded that the differences are minimal. The Cedarburg policy abides by Wisconsin State Statutes which require an opt-out provision; however, Cedarburg’s process includes personal follow ups/phone calls to parents are made to ensure all parents have responded and understand the election. It was mentioned that 48 of 275 10th grade students in Cedarburg elected to opt –out of “sensitive” topics. Mr. Weigand has requested that the process for West Bend requests parents to elect 1 of 3 options: opt-in fully; opt-out fully or opt-out of specifically identified sensitive areas of the curriculum. Mr. Weigand said the election process would be a good way for parents to make the decision for their child, mentioning that human growth and development is not a required topic but if the district does offer it the district should make it more parent friendly, and we should be more creative in ways to offer the decision to parents. Mr. Weigand said he believes the public would like to be given an option and he would like a policy and implementation in place so that nothing falls through the cracks during parental notification and parental decision making for the “sensitive” topics.

Mr. Marquardt suggested allowing parents to select a path for human growth and development, Path A and Path B, depending on the sensitive nature of the material, and if parents do not respond their child would default into the less controversial path.

Mr. Pauli stated that the HGD committee would convene second semester and during the committee work they would review the Cedarburg process.

Ms. Elliehausen asked Mr. Weigand if he was okay with no changes to 1-3 of the policy. Mr. Weigand responded for number 3 a lot of great ideas were put forth and he would work with Mr. Pauli on implementing them through administrative rule.

The committee discussed the policy include a provision similar to Cedarburg’s #5 which pertains to students participating in invasive medical procedures. Administration concurred that this provision can be added to current policy. Mr. Weigand and the committee further discussed that with items 4 and 5, and now new number 6 related to invasive testing that stronger language be added clearly stating that students would not be able to participate in the surveys or testing without parental permission. There will be an opt-in for 4, 5 and 5. Mr. Pauli added the exception of those areas required by the Department of Public Instruction, the State of Wisconsin and/or Federal law if funds are associated with them. Administration again concurred that this provision could be added to those sections. Mr. Pauli will work with Mr. Weigand on these revisions to policy 333.

This policy will be brought back to this committee in January for further review.

Policy 615 Disclosure of Financing and Total Costs of All Referenda

Mr. Williams asked that district administration develop a policy that would define, in the case of referendum or borrowing, the District’s responsibility to disclose: 1) total principal amount, 2) interest to be paid over the term of the loan, 3) total cost of 1 and 2, and 4) assumptions used to support the amount of the referendum or borrowing. All district communications to the full community would also include this information. The committee forwarded this policy to the full board for first reading at their December 12, 2011 regular board meeting.

Review of policy process

Ms. Elliehausen provided a list of the current Board policies and the date each was last reviewed. She also provided a timeline for the remainder of the policies that haven’t been reviewed as part of the 5-year cycle. Additional information included the role of the committee, the process for reviewing policies and forwarding to the full board, as well as the process for requesting a new policy. Policies within the 600 series are the next to be reviewed by this committee.

Meeting adjourned at 6:02 p.m.

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