Parents and students can soon expect several changes to school district policies concerning hazing and surveys, as was a topic of discussion during the School Board’s latest meeting on November 14 at West Running Brook Middle School.
Initiated by Superintendent Dr. Maryann Connors-Krikorian, the first readings of the first two of a large number of updates were presented before the board to be overviewed.
These policy updates were done by a subcommittee within the district administration in order to fall in line with various legislative changes and more can be expected in the future.
The first of these, falling under Policy ILDA, concerns the administering of non-educational questionnaires to students. Specifically, the update delved into parents being informed about these surveys. As of now, schools are required to alert parents at least ten days ahead of time before administering these surveys to students, not to mention that parents must also be allowed to preview the survey and be able to see it on the school’s website.
However, this new update eliminates the option to have the student opt-out of taking the survey. Curious about what this could mean for the district, Board Chair Dan McKeena questioned Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Austin Garofalo about whether or not this extended to the college level, which it does, and how many schools still hand out physical copies of their handbooks to students. Garofalo noted that it is much easier to simply place it online these days, thereby phasing out the need for physical handbooks.
However, Connors assured the board that such changes would not be a problem, as she believes that the district takes pride in keeping parents informed about what goes on between them and their children, as well as the limited number of surveys they give out.
“We’re not a district that gives a lot of surveys to students. That’s not in our culture. That’s not what we do”, Connors noted.
Aside from that alteration, Policy JICFA, which concerns hazing of students, saw an update as well. This update made it mandatory for any and all hazing, whether reported or simply suspected, be reported to law enforcement. Connors went on to note that any of these changes would be made clear to parents in online handbooks, as the old and new policies will be shown side by side for parents to view.
However, as these changes only went through their first readings, the board has not yet decided on whether or not to implement them, instead making that decision when they are re-introduced at a later date.