I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Friday, May 16, 2014

What Will the Board Do With the R & R Handbook?

A Wonderful Display of Local Governance in Action!

At times it wasn't pretty-but it certainly was interesting.....This morning's regular workshop of the Escambia County School Board was consumed by discussion of the Rights and Responsibilities Handbook for 2014-2015.  I took particular interest in going through it completely because so many of our school board rules point parents and students right back to the R&R handbook.

Today's meeting also brought multiple speakers who addressed the board regarding the R&R handbook, the majority of whom want the school district to include language throughout the handbook adding "gender identity or expression" to the list of those categories of persons that are not to be discriminated against in our schools.

Leading up to today's meeting, board members were given documents from the Escambia Youth Justice Coalition, and the Gay Straight Alliance of Pensacola, where they have given suggested language for several sections of the handbook

Patty Hightower agreed to make a motion at the table to add portions of the suggested language to the R&R book, and Linda Moultrie indicated she would support inclusion of this language into the R&R book as well.

Bill Slayton opposed the addition, stating that the current language should be sufficient, and this sentiment was echoed by Jerry Boone.

Superintendent Thomas did not say specifically whether or not he would add the language that had been suggested by the speakers in attendance as a recommendation to the board, and at one point indicated he felt the current language was sufficient as well.

For my part, I believe I have found support for the idea of strengthening the language with respect to allowing parents to be notified before police question students at school, as the EYJC have recommended stronger language that bolsters parental rights-an area that I have championed for several years.

 The other big issues I have with the R&R book are

1. the way it is inconsistent in the way it describes the one year mandatory out of school suspension for bringing weapons or drugs to school or for making a bomb threat.  I believe language will be made uniform when the board next tackles chapter 7.

2.  the way expulsions and placement changes are described together and appear to have the effect of allowing students to be expelled in de facto fashion for long periods by calling these non-expulsion expulsions "change of placement".

Not sure how all of these issues will resolve themselves, but I do believe Tuesday's meeting will be interesting.


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