Derry School District Continues to Update Policies

The Derry School Board has approved four policies and will do a second reading on three more at its next meeting.
Policies approved in the Sept. 24 meeting included EFA, Availability and Distribution of Healthy Foods; IFA, Instructional Needs of Students with Different Talents; JLCK, Special Physical Health Needs of Students; and IMGA, Service Animals.
Policies brought before the full board for the first time included EEAEA, Mandatory Drug and Alcohol Testing for School Bus Drivers; JLDBA, Behavior Management and Intervention; and IHAM, Health Education and Exemption from Instruction.

Superintendent Laura Nelson explained that the drug and alcohol testing policy for drivers is in line with RSA 200:37, which requires that anyone holding a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) be tested.
Board member Dan McKenna, a member of the Policy Committee, said the new policy “reaffirms our commitment and underscores the importance of safety with anyone transporting our students or anyone who works in a safety function for the district.”
McKenna said the district contracts out its bus service and the bus company, First Student, already performs random drug testing. But the district is still required to have a policy in place, he said, and this will benefit the district “going forward.”
The drug and alcohol testing policy allows for pre-employment, random, “reasonable suspicion” and post-accident testing as defined by the Department of Labor. The Derry Cooperative School District has a zero tolerance policy for substance abuse, and any person who has a confirmed positive test for drugs or a confirmed alcohol concentration of 0.02 or greater will be terminated from employment.
The Behavior Management and Intervention policy has several components, including:
• Administration of disciplinary action will focus both on consequences and on changing and managing inappropriate behavior.
• Careful evaluation is important so that the school’s response will be appropriate.
• If a student has an IEP (Individualized Education Program), the process will follow state and federal guidelines.
• Interventions will include psychological, curricular and behavior services, and exclusion from the classroom should be the last resort.
• The superintendent will ensure that behavior management skills are addressed through professional development and that there is an accurate system of record keeping.
• Corporal punishment is prohibited in district schools.
Nelson said the district already had a good set of guidelines in place for behavior management. She said the policy has been reviewed through the Special Education department.
The exemption from health and physical education instruction due to religious reasons is also mandated by the state and is under RSA 186:11-d.
McKenna emphasized that this policy is specific in its language. “It is for parents or students over 18 who want to be exempt from part of the curriculum based on religious objections,” he said.
McKenna added that if a parent or guardian wants to inspect or review the curriculum, that is provided for under this policy.
The policy also states, “Any student who is exempted by request of the parent/guardian under this policy may be given an alternative assignment sufficient to meet state requirements for health education.” The policy states that the health or physical education teacher will provide the alternative assignment.
Board member Wendy Smith questioned the wording of that part of the policy, noting that if an alternative program is mandated, the policy should read “shall” instead of “may.” Nelson agreed to the change and noted that children must have an alternate lesson or unit to meet state competencies.
The policy also includes an Opt-Out form for parents or students over 18 to fill out. A form is available from either the health education or physical education teachers.
Nelson emphasized that this policy is specific to health or physical education. The district has another policy, adopted in 2012, allowing parents or students over 18 to opt out of curriculum. “Parents still have that right,” Nelson said. “This is specific to health.”