The Knox Community School Corporation may soon be updating some of its disciplinary policies for school staff, as well as the public. On January 15, the school board is expected to vote on a number of policy updates recommended by policy consultant NEOLA.
One of them would explicitly prohibit school officials from helping employees suspected of engaging in sexual activity with a minor get a job elsewhere, according to Superintendent Dr. William Reichhart. “It does not have to be proven,” he told the school board last month. “But what it means is that we cannot write a letter of reference, recommendation, or be a point of contact, if we believe that someone has left us before we could maybe take legal action and they’re looking for another job.”
Reichhart says another pair of proposed policies would specify that paid administrative leave is no longer considered a disciplinary action, while suspension without pay is. “Therefore, this example is used: To maintain the privacy of the staff member who is place on administrative leave, it can’t be given to media requests and those types of things,” Reichhart says. “So that’s placing someone on administrative leave with pay is no longer a disciplinary action until further investigation is done.”
Meanwhile, all current school employees who have direct, ongoing contact with students would have to have periodic background checks. Staff members would also have to have one hour of training on identifying and reporting human trafficking every two years. Under another proposed policy, Reichhart says parents or students who’ve been banned from attending a school event would now have the chance to appeal that decision to the school board.
The corporation’s graduation requirements are also being updated to reflect diploma changes being made at the state level. “We’ll just have one standard high school diploma, and then it will be broken down into designations,” Reichhart explained. “We’ll have a General designation, such as a General Diploma – although we just have now one diploma, so don’t get confused – or they could have a Core 40 or they could have a Core 40 with Academic Honors or they could have a Core 40 with Technical Honors.” Very little would actually change in practice, according to High School Principal Dr. Elizabeth Ratliff, but the update will straighten out issues with federal accountability.
Under other proposed changes, the school corporation will have to offer dyslexia screening and intervention for certain students, and Computer Science courses will have to be offered starting in 2021. Many of the updates under consideration are designed to bring the Knox Community Schools’ policies up-to-date with changes at the state level.