Questions on Release Time Policy III - Draft Policy for Dec 4

The following is the draft “Released Time” policy, with questions interspersed. The policy language is in black text and the questions are in blue text. I will post answers in green text as soon as they are given.

* A new version of this policy was sent to Board members on Tuesday, December 10th – the day before the scheduled vote. We are told that this version will replace the version that was attached to the agenda and discussed in last week’s meeting. (That language has been added here, in red.) I don’t recall that any Board member requested this addition during the meeting. However, the addition that was specifically requested, and to which I heard no opposition, was a definition of “core curriculum subject courses.”

When there are more questions than answers, is it responsible to move forward?

* It should be noted that none of these answers has come directly from requests for information from the administration, with the exception of the pilot program agreement, which required two requests and was sent to Board members. A few of these answers came from a phone call with Deputy Law Director Gary Dupler and the rest were the result of questions asked during the December 4th Board of Education meeting.

 

“Released time” or “released time course” is “a period of time during which a student is excused from school to attend a course in religious moral instruction taught by an independent entity off school property.” ¹

The Knox County Board of Education authorizes a student to be excused from school to attend a released time course in religious instruction, provided that each of the following applies:

  1. The student’s parent or guardian gives written consent prior to course participation;
  • How do students find out about available programs?

  • How are consent forms distributed/collected?
    • Is this an additional task for classroom teachers?
      • Depending on the size of the school, it could fall to a teacher, an administrator, or it could be handled by the sponsoring entity.
    • Is this an additional task for school office staff?
      • It is possible that this will be additional work for the school office staff.
    • Who tracks whether the information is provided to all students?

  • Who handles questions/complaints regarding consent forms and/or participation?
    • Principals are likely to be on the front line, regarding complaints. How they would be handled after that is unknown.
  • How much time has been spent at Sterchi Elementary, responding to questions/concerns about release time, since the beginning of the pilot?
    • If this was not tracked as part of the pilot, why was it not tracked?
  1. The sponsoring entity maintains attendance records and makes them available to the individual school the student attends;
  • How are these made available?
    • Will the same format be required at all schools?
    • Will all entities be required to use the same format?
      • It is possible that each sponsoring entity would report in their own format.
  • Who is responsible for tracking/accounting for these?
    • A procedure will have to be developed.

  • When will these be made available?
    • If a student leaves class to attend but does not board the bus, how soon will the school be informed?
    • How much additional school staff time could this consume?
      • This is unknown, as data from the pilot has not been collected and/or analyzed.

 

  1. The course occurs off school property and transportation to and from the place of instruction, including transportation for students with disabilities, is the complete responsibility of the sponsoring entity, parent, guardian, or student;
  • If students with disabilities require a teacher or assistant to accompany them to class, what provisions are made to have the same available during release time?
    • It is assumed that the sponsoring entity will have to provide appropriate assistance. How this will be done is unknown. 
  • If students have toileting accommodations or medical needs that require the presence of a school nurse, what provisions are required of the release time entity?
    • It is possible that the sponsoring entity could compensate a school nurse to travel with the student, but would also depend on the nurse’s other responsibilities.
  • What safety protocols are required of the sponsoring entity?
    •  None. This is entirely up to the sponsoring entity. 
      • What are the requirements for safety inspections for student transportation?
        • None
      • What are the requirements for insurance?
        • None.
      • What are the requirements for drivers?
        • None.
      • What are the requirements for safety drills for the sponsoring entity?  
        • None.
      • Will their response to an emergency mirror the responses students have practiced in their usual classrooms?
        • We have no idea. That is up to the sponsoring entity.

      • What are the reporting/response requirements for the sponsoring entity if a student makes a threat against a school, a student, or him/herself?
        • We don’t know that there are any requirements, as the students would not be participating in a school-sanctioned event.

 

  1. The sponsoring entity makes provisions for and assumes liability for any and all students while under the control of the sponsoring entity;
  • What checks ensure the sponsoring entity is appropriately insured for such liability?
    • None.
      This is completely up to the sponsoring entity.
      There are no requirements that they be insured at all.

Continue reading Questions on Release Time Policy III – Draft Policy for Dec 4

Questions on a Released Time Policy II - Teacher Perspective

There have been many questions regarding a potential policy for KCS to allow “released time for religious moral instruction.” This is part II in a series of posts to consider those questions. 

 

What are teachers saying about the possibility of the Knox County Board of Education adopting a “released time” policy?

 

The fact that an educator, any educator, has to fight their school board for the opportunity to educate, is a very discouraging one. Right now, I am fighting to teach. Spending my time imploring my school board to not pass this new program is not something I really want to spend my time doing–it is taking away from my planning and personal time. Frankly, I feel let down that this school board is even considering the measure. But it is very high stakes to me and so many other specialists, it is worth writing. As our school board, I would like to think that you have our students’ LEARNING experience in mind at all times. Pulling out, for any reason, is not providing a good, solid, learning or teaching experience.   

 ~ KCS Art Educator

To interrupt class time for an outside group on a regular basis is a disservice to those of us who teach, but more importantly, a very great disservice to our students.


The data for one child per school year (approximations, as each school has a different schedule):

45 minute class x 30 class times = 1350 minutes of time for each special during the school year. 

Broken down into hours, 1350 minutes/60 = 22.5 hours during the school year. 

22.5 hours or 3.75 six-hour days total to teach and help our students grow across the year. That is not much at all, but amazing things happen in those few short hours. To interrupt class time for an outside group on a regular basis (that could as easily take place AFTER school) is a disservice to those of us who teach, but more importantly, a very great disservice to our students.   

 ~ KCS Art Educator

Visual arts, music and physical education are non-tested subjects, but they are indispensable. Students need these skills to hold any job.

Visual arts, music and physical education are non-tested subjects, but they are indispensable.  I teach visual arts and I teach our students to solve problems in creative ways and find new solutions to problems using a variety of processes.  We learn how to give critical feedback to peers using interpersonal skills.  Through art history, we gain understanding of our world, our culture, and our relationships with other people.  Students need these skills to hold any job.

Students with a strong background in visual art and music are better positioned for tomorrow’s changing world.  They learn to adapt, to never give up, and to be strong.

Knox County students have many paths to access religious studies, but finite time and access to arts classes.

Please vote “no” on the Bible Release Program. Religious education has it’s place, but it is not during public school hours.

 ~ KCS Art Educator

Bible study and Christian education is a private decision. It is not the domain of public education, and it should not infringe on the practices of public education.

I approach this problem as a Knox. County citizen, an avid voter, an educator, and a Christian. I have worked for the Boy Scouts of America, public education as an English teacher, and as an English Instructor at a private Christian university. I believe you and other school board members, should vote NO on the Bible Release Program. I do not believe it is the place for public education to limit classroom education in any way in favor of Bible study and education. I firmly believe that voting yes for the Bible Release Program is short-sighted, unfair, and against the ethics of education within Tennessee and the United States…

Firstly, taking students out of any class is a severe miscalculation. Teachers and students are always on a timeline that is uncompromising. Students are trying to learn and retain new information in their English, Math, Science, Social Studies, and History classes because of the ever-looming end of course tests coming their ways. Moreover, teachers are always hard-pressed to meet goals for student learning objectives that are difficult to meet even if there are no snow days, holidays, or other breaks added in. Deciding to do this during other classes, like Music, Art, Physical Education, Library Time, or Computer Sciences is, again, short-sighted. These classes are sometimes the only opportunity that students will receive to explore these areas. Students might only learn about harmonization in Music from the classes provided by public education. Art students might only be able to practice creativity with crafts and paint in the classes available through the school system. Taking any day out of this opportunity, even once a month, is insulting to a diverse and beneficial curriculum. The notion that ELA or Special Area classes are acceptable losses for Bible study is not correct and tells educators that you believe their subject and efforts are lesser than those of their fellows. They are not.

Further, Bible study and Christian education is a private decision. It is not the domain of public education, and it should not infringe on the practices of public education. … As a Christian educator, I do believe that there is a separation between church and state. I am completely fine with the current efforts made to allow students a moment of reflection on their religion. Those efforts are fine because they do not affect the school schedule. FCA and other organizations either take time before classes begin or at the end of the day. If those are offered, that is more than acceptable. However, it is unfair and, arguably, prejudiced to offer a reprieve from classes for only the Christian students. I do not believe there has been anything mentioned or offered for students that practice a different religion. Would students be allowed to study the Quran or Torah? I understand this is a heartfelt motion to many to allow children to further explore their religious text, but the entire plan seems exclusive and antithetical to the goals of education in our country. 

If I seem harsh in my language, I am truly sorry, but all of this stems from a passion about providing quality education. The current program only seems to offer one demographic an option and considers valuable opportunities in the classroom as worthwhile sacrifices. That is not the type of education I can support. Please vote NO. 

~ KCS Music Educator

Tested or not, how many ways can we show disdain for these “untested” classes?

Tested or not, how many ways can we show disdain for “untested” classes?
This is impacting the arts, phys ed, English, special ed, speech, and English language learners.

~ KCS Art Educator

 

I value my students, instruction time, lessons, and curriculum as much as any other teacher.
I believe it is MORE essential to becoming a productive member of society.
I teach EVERY child, and they are ALL successful and grow when learning in my classroom.
Every child will not master mathematics or reading. But every child can create. This makes us human.

~ KCS Art Educator

The law demands that I not “adjust” my curriculum to a religion of a few children. I do what I can.
But I shouldn’t be forced to adjust my instruction for religious instruction during the school day.
The Elgin foundation’s goal is that this is a weekly event. …  I see my students maybe 32 times a year, 45-min classes. A year of missed classes would be devastating.

~ KCS Art Educator

Creativity requires higher-order thinking at the highest levels, yet most core academic classes do not have time to accommodate creative exercises because of the tremendous pressure to “test well.”

Art and other creative classes are the most important to me as a parent. Creativity requires higher-order thinking at the highest levels, yet most core academic classes do not have time to accommodate creative exercises because of the tremendous pressure to “test well.”

If my daughter’s art class was affected in this manner, I would be infuriated. In fact, I plan to apply for transfers, if necessary, to ensure she will have the best opportunities for art education in middle and high school. (Luckily we are currently zoned for great schools with healthy art programs.) If my child attended this elementary school, I would be incredibly dissatisfied. I am very upset on those students’ and teachers’ behalf. Art is how we learn how to be human.

What’s more, I practice a minority religion, and I am very doubtful that any comparable programs/treats would be offered to my child. This is all unfair on a number of levels.

—–

Mass absences cause the other students to suffer instructionally

Based on the firsthand experience of teachers at the school, a large portion of the class being gone does, in fact, affect the remaining students. Also, as a former full-time teacher, I know from my own career that mass absences cause the other students to suffer instructionally. To negatively impact the other students’ learning through this religious program seems rather contrary to the idea of teaching a moral code. 

I am skeptical that any such religious program in our town would offer options other than Christianity– I suspect there would be a public outcry if children were taken to mosques or synagogues.

Vouchers started with a pilot program.

It’s once a month NOW. Pilot programs can disguise long-term agendas. This opens the door to groups who want religion in public schools. They will begin lobbying to get more days each month/week. Vouchers started with a pilot program.

~ Former Teacher, Current KCS Parent

For sure the most concerning aspect of this to me is what it opens the door to allow for the future. That’s an awful lot of power to hand over to one individual [school principal or designee] for a program like this.

~ KCS Parent, Private School Teacher

I’m writing in regard to the Bible Release Time that is being considered by KCS.  Please know that I am very opposed to this and how the time away from class can negatively impact students educationally and perhaps socially for years to come in their non-tested subjects.  …  It would really send the message that it is okay to miss related arts classes for other things when we are already competing for time to teach state-mandated standards.  Most importantly, the dynamic this policy could create when students are “getting out” of class for religious purposes when others are not, provides yet one more way to divide students religiously and could even promote bullying or separation in a significantly negative way.   I can’t begin to express the level of concern I have for students who could feel isolated or different for religious purposes.  This should not be a part of their school day. I have no doubt that there will be students negatively impacted by this needless policy, if enacted. 

I ask that you do all that you can, on behalf of our rising artists, to object to this pilot program.  It will most definitely adversely affect the related arts. For planning purposes, imagine,  as a teacher, planning state-standard based lessons (YES, THE ARTS HAVE STATE STANDARDS WE HAVE TO TEACH!) and several students are consistently missing lessons that others are not. The confusion, extra concern, and work-load this gives a teacher is unnecessary.  Yet another dynamic to create division and differences in learning experiences. 

~ KCS Art Educator

We are extremely concerned and disheartened by the fact that the Knox County Board of Education has seen fit to implement a pilot release-time program for religious instruction at Sterchi Elementary this fall.  In our opinion this program may have been well-intended, but if implemented as a county-wide policy, it will in fact result in unintended negative consequences that will far outweigh the benefits. 

  • … If a  number of groups implement release-time programs, there could be an inordinate amount of work involved for teachers and staff to coordinate these activities. 
  • The sponsoring entity of the release-time program will be responsible for the safety of children during the entire period of time away from school, and for providing insurance that might be needed in case of a mishap.  However, many parents will not realize that the normally accepted safeguards such as background checks on certified personnel and transportation on vehicles vetted by KCS will not be in place.  Because of the fact that the students are being transported from school during the school day, parents may assume there are safeguards that will in fact be missing.
  • There is ample research attesting to the value of arts programs and the necessity of physical education, especially on the elementary level, for all our students. The release-time programs will steal instructional time from these encore classes, somehow deemed to be “less than” other programs because they are not tested on the state level, and thus are fair game for preemption. These programs often resonate with children who are struggling in other academic or social areas and should not be abridged.
  • All students need a school atmosphere that is inclusive, not divisive.  Much effort goes into developing a school identity through a school slogan, class shirts, etc.  Students who don’t participate could easily feel set apart from their classmates who do, and bullying may result. Children will only see that they are not getting to do a field trip some other kids in their class are doing. There is no consideration for how overburdened teachers will have to deal with these incidents, or even the logistics of getting kids from the classroom to the transport area. This can only be disruptive.
  • Religious instruction could be offered without provoking public controversy by any group who felt called to do so outside the school day – after-school childcare is expensive and sometimes hard to find, and these groups could help fill this great need. 

The disadvantages far outweigh the advantages if Knox County Schools adopt this policy. It doesn’t need to happen. As stakeholders in Knox County Schools, we urge you strongly not to implement this policy.

~ Former Music Educator

 

Please stand up for our educators, our students,
and cherish the value that our classrooms hold

To allow a KCS policy would be a slap in the face to our art department, which has grown so much, with a goal to be the best art department in the nation. If our own district doesn’t value the time we spend with our students, and the growth they achieve in our classrooms, we will not even be the best in this local area.

Please stand up for our educators, our students, and cherish the value that our classrooms hold, and vote no on any release time program. 

Students and parents will always have the evenings/weekends for any religious instruction. I personally teach a middle-school youth group on Wednesdays, and an occasional youth group class on Sundays. I value my deeply held beliefs and my time to explore and grow in my personal beliefs.  Please hold our instructional public school time as sacred as you would your personal religious time. 

The Elgin Foundation and the church at Sterchi Hills has a bus on which they can provide transportation to children any other time of the day. Don’t open the door to using our public school instruction time in such a divisive way. 

~ KCS Art Educator

You would be doing our students a disservice to pull them out of the already small amount of arts education that they receive. In addition to this, Music and Art have been identified as core subjects by ESEA. [Elementary & Secondary Edcuation Act]

I am a passionate music educator. I spent five years earning two degrees from the University of Tennessee, and have spent countless hours attending professional developments, seminars, and classes to continue to grow as a music educator and be the best that I can be for my students.

I am reaching out to urge you to vote NO on the Bible Release program. This program would pull students out of my class, as well as art, physical education, guidance, technology, and library classes. 

I am a woman of faith and completely understand the value of having time to worship and study the Bible. However, the school day is not the time for this. First of all, separation of church and state exists for a reason. We have a diverse population of students in Knox County, many of whom have different cultures and beliefs. We want to be inclusive of all of our students, not just ones of a faith that is in the majority. I fear that this program could make some of our students feel alienated and left out of a big part of the school’s culture. Perhaps the Elgin Foundation could consider piloting an after-school program.

Children in the US have the right to a free public education. Music, art, PE, library, guidance, and other special area classes are part of that education. I only see each class that I teach for 45 minutes twice every seven school days. If a student misses a class due to illness or other circumstances, they are already behind, especially when we are preparing for one of our many programs that we put on each year. 

There have been countless studies done on the importance of arts education. You would be doing our students a disservice to pull them out of the already small amount of arts education that they receive. In addition to this, Music and Art have been identified as core subjects by ESEA. They are a critical part of a student’s education.

I have also heard that some board members are in support of this program because they believe that is teaches character education. Please know that every child in Knox County receives guidance classes, has access to a school counselor, and is part of a PBIS (positive behavior) system. Social emotional learning is integrated into every subject, including mine. This is something that all students can learn and grow from, regardless of religious beliefs.

~ KCS Music Educator

Student time in these subject-areas is already limited, so I feel strongly that this program will negatively impact student learning… I ask that you think of the effect that this program could have on our kids’ whole-brain education when you vote on this issue. 

As an elementary art teacher, I only see my students once a week. I value this instructional time as much as any other teacher, and I know that kids benefit a lot from their time in my class. Since the arts and ELL are not tested subjects, it is my understanding that the students who attend this program will be missing our classes in order to participate. This would not only be detrimental to those who are absent, but also disruptive to those who are left in class. Performance-based subjects (such as music, dance, and theater) require regular student attendance for practices and performance. Visual arts and ELL have curriculums that are very difficult for students to “make up” outside of class. 

Even though we are not tested core subjects, an education in the arts has been proven again and again to be extremely beneficial. Research shows that the arts improve students’ critical thinking, creative problem-solving, school attendance, self-confidence, and communication skills, etc. If you have time, please check out this article from the Brookings Institute.
https://www.brookings.edu/blog/brown-center-chalkboard/2019/02/12/new-evidence-of-the-benefits-of-arts-education/

Student time in these subject-areas is already limited, so I feel strongly that this program will negatively impact student learning in the arts and ELL. I ask that you think of the effect that this program could have on our kids’ whole-brain education when you vote on this issue. 

~KCS Art Educator

 

Having this as an option removes children from any classes that are deemed “non-core,” which is looking at these classes as they aren’t as important as other core classes. That these are lesser classes, even though the teachers who teach these classes pour their heart into teaching them to children and ensuring they are given a good and quality education. The “non-core” course are absolutely as important as other courses as they form well rounded individuals. A child could find their passion through one of these courses, but being removed from any of these is depriving them of an opportunity. 

Outside of school hours, their parents, family members, friends, and community are able to give any religious teachings they wish to these children. But as a lifelong citizen of Knox County and having friends and family who give their life to Knox County education, I urge you to VOTE NO on this. 

~ KCS Music Educator

A school system has the honor and charge to produce well-rounded individuals
and should never select [one] religion over another.

If this program is allowed to take full effect in KCS, the district must ensure all religious groups are fully expressed and part of this program. A school system has the honor and charge to produce well-rounded individuals and should never select [one] religion over another.  To prohibit discrimination, keep religion and matters of the state apart, in this case educating minds.  As a person of faith myself, I see no harm in keeping these two items apart. If a parent wishes a child to have an education rooted in faith and academics, then enroll them in private or religious schools. Public education is intended for all students with no selected form of religion valued or allowed over another.

Could this program happen after school? Maybe this option could help reduce childcare costs for parents/guardians.

…This pilot program concerns me due to the times in which students may leave campus for religious study. The law as written does not allow students to be pulled from areas/courses/subjects that have standardized tests. …  Allowing students to be pulled out of special areas first, devalues and sends a strong message to special educators that you do not and are not important. Pulling students during special area classes secondly, prohibits a smooth, well delivered, and thorough curriculum. Yes, a student is pulled out by parent permission but, think of devaluing 250 plus educators in our district

Think of trying to put together a musical, concert, or even art show when half to a third of your class misses at least once a month. Art shows, concerts, and musicals etc, are the equivalent of a classroom educator’s standardized test. Think of trying to plan, reorganize, reteach, and deliver quality instruction once a week when so many students are missing.

…Our entire district works tirelessly to ensure thousands of students are safe each day. During the time they are on our campuses, students are our responsibility. If we allow students to enter and exit multiple times in a week or even monthly, that is one more time students are out of our safety. I do hope that every precaution and vetting process is conducted before this would ever become a curriculum mandated or option.

   ~ KCS Music Educator

Too many people misunderstand what we do & the importance of what we teach.
The Arts are the one place where every child is equal.

Since I only see my students once a week, even missing one class puts that student tremendously behind. Music and Art have been deemed Core Subjects by the ESEA. There have been numerous studies showing the benefits of studying the arts.

Here’s a link to the National Association for Music Education and a brief summary of current research https://nafme.org/20-important-benefits-of-music-in-our-schools/

Too many people misunderstand what we do and the importance of what we teach. The Arts are the one place where every child is equal. It doesn’t matter if you’re in SpEd, or and ELL student. Everyone can sing. Everyone can draw. 

If they aren’t being pulled out the Arts, when are they getting pulled? PE? That time is state mandated. Recess? That time is state mandated? ELA? Math? Social Studies? Science? LUNCH? 

Our days are jam packed! We don’t have time for students to miss. We all just attended a mandatory session about chronic absenteeism. Missing more time does not seem to fit in with what we were just told. This definitely gives mixed signals. 

Education Law states that every child is entitled to a full day of secular education without evangelism or proselytizing. I also know that this type of thing Constitutionally opens up the door for other types of religions to also have this type of pull-out program. … When does it end?

Why can’t the Elgin foundation pick kids up after school and educate them. Honestly, this would be more a service to our parents – daycare and religious study.

What if the children who fall behind in class are made fun of by others? 

What if the children who stay behind are bullied for being the “wrong” religion?

As a parent of a former KCS student, I can say that our kids have enough on their plates. They don’t need this additional worry.

To me, and I hope to you, it just doesn’t make sense to open this door. I hope you will stand by our Educators and the quality of Education our students receive. 

~ KCS Music Educator

Questions on Released Time Policy

There have been many questions regarding a potential policy for KCS to allow “released time for religious moral instruction.” Some of those questions will be covered in this and subsequent posts. If you have other questions, please post them in the comments or email your Knox County Board of Education members.

 
Q.      Will a “released time for religious moral instruction” policy impact classroom instruction? What courses could students miss?
 
A.    Only “non-tested subjects.”
 
Q.       What could that include?
 
A:
all Kindergarten classrooms
all 1st grade classrooms
all 2nd grade classrooms
art
art history
graphic design
animation/simulation and motion graphics
broadcasting
audio production
instrumental music (marching band, concert band, wind ensemble, orchestra)
choral music (concert choir, madrigal singers, show choir, honors ensembles)
general music (elementary chorus, elementary instrumental groups)
music theory and harmony
music history
dance
theater arts, drama
computer science
computer programming
computer keyboarding
library
driver’s education
RTI
ELL
history (world history, American history)
social studies
geography
world languages (French, German, Spanish, Latin, Japanese, Chinese, ASL, etc.)
agriculture,
welding auto body,
construction trades (plumbing, masonry, CAD)
forensic science
culinary arts
cosmetology (barbering, design principals, chemistry of cosmetology)
nursing
behavioral and community health
dental science
special education
personal finance
financial planning
accounting I & II
business management
business principles
health and safety
spelling
speech
gifted
Jr. ROTC
….. and more.

Knox County BOE Considers Release Time

There is some confusion regarding the Knox County Board of Education’s consideration of a “Released Time” policy.

This is a policy discussion – NOT a discussion regarding the merits of a program. Once the policy is in place, ANY program can take time from instruction at ANY Knox County school. The Board of Education cannot vote on the PROGRAM. By law, the only thing we can vote to do is to implement a “release time” POLICY, to allow ANY AND ALL groups to take children from our schools for whatever their group may consider “moral instruction.”

 

Cuts to our students’ time in arts classes has already negatively impacted a whole generation and continuing to cut time from instruction should be considered educational malpractice.

 

There are multiple considerations for our school board, including the fact that students who are not in the programs will be significantly negatively impacted because their instructional time is being impacted. Cuts to our students’ time in arts classes has already negatively impacted a whole generation and continuing to cut time from instruction should be considered educational malpractice.

I encourage you to take a close look at the “released time” law and see what it allows and what it does not allow. (I will paste it below.) Please notice that once a policy is in place, the school district will have absolutely no oversight of the people a child leaves school with for this time.

This is not a field trip. There are no KCS background checks, employee interviews, or anything else. The school board will not be vetting ANY of the organizations that come to pick up children and the district will not be verifying that the organization’s staff are who they say they are or whether they are teaching what they claim to teach. Parents will be giving up ALL school supervision of children during that hour. The children will be fully “released” into the care of whoever is on that bus, van, car, or whatever. By law, the district will have absolutely no oversight. I hope you will step back from any religious consideration and look and the very real potential this has to bring significant harm to children. I find this terrifying.

WHAT DOES TENNESSEE CODE SAY?

TCA 49-2-130

Policy excusing student to attend released time course in religious moral instruction authorized — Requirements — Liability — Credit.

(a) As used in this section,”released time course” means a period of time during which a student is excused from school to attend a course in religious moral instruction taught by an independent entity off school property.

(b) A local board of education may adopt a policy that excuses a student from school to attend a released time course in religious moral instruction for no more than one (1) class period per school day; provided, that:

(1) The student’s parent or legal guardian signs a written consent form prior to the student’s participation in the released time course;

(2) The released time course shall be conducted off public school property;

(3) The independent entity maintains attendance records and makes the records available to the LEA and the local board of education;

(4) Any transportation to and from the place of instruction, including transportation for students with disabilities, is the responsibility of the independent entity, parent, legal guardian, or student;

(5) The independent entity assumes liability for the student attending the released time course from the time that the student leaves the school until the student returns to the school;

(6) No public funds are expended and no public school personnel are involved in providing the instruction for released time courses;

(7) The student assumes responsibility for any missed schoolwork;

(8) The principal of the school, or the principal’s designee, shall determine the classes from which the student may be excused to participate in the released time course; provided, that the student may not be excused to participate in a released time course during any class in which subject matter is taught for which the state requires an examination for state or federal accountability purposes; and

(9) The released time courses shall coincide with school class schedules.

 

(c) The LEA, the local board of education, the local governing authority, and the state shall not be liable for the student who participates in the released time course.

(d) The written consent form under subdivision (b)(1) shall provide a disclaimer that:

(1) Eliminates any actual or perceived affirmative school sponsorship or attribution to the LEA of an endorsement of a religious instruction; and

(2) Waives any right of the student’s parent or legal guardian to hold the school, the LEA, the employees of the school or LEA, or the state liable for the student participating in a released time course. (e) Instructors of released time courses are not required to be licensed or certificated pursuant to chapter 5 of this title. Instructors and other employees of the released time courses shall be hired by the independent entity.

 

(f) A student who attends a released time course shall be credited with time spent as if the student attended school, and the time shall be calculated as part of the actual school day.

 

(g)

(1) A local board of education may adopt a policy to award students credit for work completed in a released time course that is substantiated by a transcript from the entity that provided the released time course. If a board adopts a policy in accordance with this subsection (g), then a student may be awarded one-half (1/2) unit of elective credit for the completion of each released time course.

(2) In order to determine whether elective credit may be awarded for the student’s completion of a released time course, the local board of education shall evaluate the course in a neutral manner that does not involve any test for religious content or denominational affiliation. For purposes of this subsection (g), the secular criteria used to evaluate a released time course may include:

(A) The amount of classroom instruction time;

(B) The course syllabus, which reflects the course requirements and any materials used in the course;

(C) Methods of assessment used in the course; and

(D) Whether the course was taught by an instructor licensed pursuant to chapter 5 of this title.

KCS Harassment Policy

Unfortunately, there has been a lot of misinformation spread regarding the Knox County Schools employee and student harassment policies. I want share factual information, rather than trying to address every false claim that is being spread.

The Knox County Board of Education reviews every policy, every year. It is actually required by state law, that we review policies at least every other year, and that we have a schedule and a review timeline. The Tennessee School Boards Association recommends a one-year cycle, like the one we use in Knox County.

During policy review, many suggestions were sent in from community members. Some of them were in conflict with other policies and in conflict with state law. While discussing suggestions, it was realized that the current policy fails to even meet basic federal language, which is a problem. Because “sex” is the word that was left out, it becomes a HUGE problem when looking at actual protections regarding gender identity and sexual orientation.

Right now, we have gender and sexual orientation listed in a way that is not recognized federally AND without the ONE word that has stood the test of time, and has repeatedly been used in handing down decisions regarding discrimination and harassment cases. Most people do not understand that case law is a part of law because it shows exactly how laws have been interpreted and it sets a standard for other cases to follow. EVERYTHING in court decisions that protects our students regarding gender identity and sexual orientation and regarding discrimination and harassment has fallen under that umbrella.

To discard EVERY positive step that has been made, in exchange for language that gives people a false sense of safety, would be a travesty – and it is DEEPLY concerning that this was ever allowed to happen to our policies.

What we DO have in our current policy is language that is more inclusive than any other language we have been sent as a “template” for improvement. I have not seen other policies that make it clear that NO harassment will be tolerated. Though the Metro Nashville policy has been repeatedly referenced, it is important to look at what it actually says:

The school system prohibits any form of harassment based upon age, religion, marital status, creed, disability, color, race, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or appearance, or sex, including sexual harassment.

It DOES NOT say that the district prohibits any form of harassment, period. It qualifies “any form” with language that clearly does not include all possible harassment.

The Knox County Schools’ policy goes further, by including other forms of harassment that are not listed:

Knox County Schools does not discriminate in its programs or employment practices nor does it tolerate harassment for any reason including, but not limited to, …

The policy continues with

Harassment by any employee will not be tolerated.

This not only covers every kind of harassment of every employee, but it ensures that we are not creating an unintended consequence by being so specific that we create a category in which people cannot be protected.

The student policy also goes beyond other suggested templates, by removing the limitations others, like Metro Nashville impose:

Knox County Schools does not discriminate in its programs nor does it tolerate harassment for any reason including, but not limited to,…

Also included, is language similar to the employee policy:

Harassment of any student will not be tolerated.

I have repeatedly asked people to please give me ANY example of a case that has been found in favor of the person being harassed or discriminated against, which did NOT fall under the protective umbrella of “sex.” I still have nothing that shows that students or staff will have any kind of security with language dangling out there by itself, with no federally protected category to back it up. No one has shown me anything that gives that language any ACTUAL strength.

What I have been able to find, is a wide range of feeling about language that includes sexual orientation and gender identity. This includes Board members’ explanations of how they intend the policy to be carried out – and that is important.

After discussion with many community members, I have submitted a possible amendment to the policy, which maintains all federally necessary language, maintains the KCS language which ensures broad coverage of everyone, and adds a definition to show that the Board understands “sex” in the context of the EEOC definition:

”Sex” includes anything related to sex, gender, sexual orientation, or perception of such, as interpreted by the EEOC: “As the federal law enforcement agency charged with interpreting and enforcing Title VII, EEOC has concluded that harassment and other discrimination because of sexual orientation is prohibited sex discrimination.”

This amended language has been sent to Board members, for inclusion in this week’s agenda. Since an amendment is voted on before voting on the main motion, this amendment will only be included if two things happen: The Board votes with at least 5 in favor of the amendment AND the Board votes with at least 5 IN FAVOR of the main motion, which is attached to this weeks agenda:

Knox County Schools does not discriminate in its programs nor does it tolerate harassment for any reason including, but not limited to, harassment on the basis of actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, sex, national origin, disability, religion, race, color, creed or any other Federally identified protected area.

Supporting the amendment does NOT mean that you also support removing the red-lined language. However, that definition will ONLY be added if the redlined changes are adopted.

I hope that this clears up some of the misinformation that is out there and that you will let others know that there is no attempt to reverse policy, but to correct language that gives a false sense of security, while maintaining language that has real support at all levels.

 

Overhauling Antiquated Discipline Practices Should Not Wait

The Knox County Schools Board of Education recognized a need to make changes to discipline practices several years ago. After nearly three years of work, a clear and comprehensive plan has been created and presented for the Board to approve, but suddenly, there is a huge political push to put the brakes on all of our work.

At the June work session, I realized that policy language that had been agreed to in the review committee had not been fully transcribed to the policy document that was to be voted on during the next regular session. Though the staff scrambled to correct the error, I felt it was too late to post the corrected language in a timeframe that could be reasonably considered transparent communication with the public. I made the motion to put off the vote until the July meeting, so the public would know exactly what language was up for vote.

The Board seemed to have consensus regarding the policies and even discussed waiving two readings. We had certainly agreed to this language in the review sessions.

Within weeks, political forces began working overtime to convince the public that three years of work and multiple opportunities for public input never happened. Many are now fighting AGAINST improving our discipline guidelines. I would like to be amazed, but I am more disheartened, that people would have either so much tainted political dependence or such evil in their souls that it would cause them to work against helping children.

The idea that changes to discipline policies in Knox County Schools have popped up suddenly, and without ample time and opportunity for community input is being pushed by those with a solid agenda to maintain the status quo and the school to prison pipeline. It is being sold by those who want to ensure that principals in Knox County Schools have NO autonomy to make the decisions necessary for equitable and appropriate treatment of the students in their schools. These people want to ensure that students are given “equal” consequences – whether children are 8 or 18 years old. Most of these individuals have never worked in any classroom – and have neither the experience nor the basic understanding of student behavior to begin to comprehend the potential consequences of their misguided proposals.

I have not been able to find ANY of these individuals who have READ the proposed guidelines.

These changes have been a work in progress for many years, the largest and most public piece of work beginning in November 2014, with the creation of the Disparities in Educational Outcomes Task Force. The Task force was made up of community members who were business leaders, faith-based leaders, experienced community volunteers, and teachers, administrators, and parents of Knox County Schools students, as well as Knox County Schools students. Their goal was to consider reported outcomes in academic achievement and discipline in Knox County Schools and recommend ways to address disparities that seemed to be correlated with income, race, language, or disability. (Members of the original Disparities in Educational Outcomes Task Force are listed at the end.)

Those who claim that school administrators and other staff have not been involved and/or had input into changes in discipline are ignoring basic facts: Principals have been involved in these changes for at least two years. At the October 29, 2015 Principals’ Meeting, all K-12 principals were engaged in a discussion related to disparities in educational and discipline outcomes in the Knox County Schools. That meeting yielded NINETEEN pages of notes from principal input, which has been continuously available to the public, here:

https://www.knoxschools.org/site/handlers/filedownload.ashx?moduleinstanceid=34393&dataid=27534&FileName=Principals%20Forum%20Notes.docx

Principals have also been involved in many other meetings regarding discipline changes that are needed in Knox County Schools. They have met for discussions, have submitted ideas and concerns to their supervisors, and repeated that process many times. I have been told that all of their concerns were addressed and all of the changes they requested were integrated into the current guidelines. When I sat in on one of these meetings, it was very clear to me that principals in that meting were ready to embrace moving forward with these guidelines to better serve the students of Knox County Schools and grow toward meeting more of our students’ social and emotional needs.

One notable recommendation from principals:  “Whole community support”

We can only build community support by involving the community. In December 2015, the “Superintendent and the members of the DEO Task Force invited students, families, educators, and community members to participate in a community meeting to share options, triumphs, and challenges with regard to their observations and personal experiences with disparities in discipline and education.”

DEO Task Force – Community Forum Video – December, 2015:

https://www.knoxschools.org/Page/13651

 

The recommendations presented by the DEO Task Force at a community meeting in April 2016 were drafted using the input, suggestions, and opinions of those who attended that meeting, in addition to all of the other input that the Task Force had already solicited from all of us who are concerned with creating the best possible schools for all students.

DEO Task Force – Community Forum Video – April, 2016

https://www.knoxschools.org/Page/14017

 

To continue the work begun by the DEO Task Force, The Disparities in Educational Outcomes’ Steering Committee was created. It is made up of members of the original Task Force as well as other community, governmental and educational leaders. (Current Steering Committee members are listed at the end of this document.) Its charge is to:

  • Review progress, discuss issues and refine efforts
  • Identify and include additional stakeholder perspectives and expertise to include subcommittee working groups
  • Evaluate outcomes and ensure public accountability and transparency
  • Regularly solicit input from the community, follow up on concerns and communicate frequently with Knox County Schools leadership to address issues.

 

The community expressed great concern that the work of the Disparities in Educational Outcomes Task Force will be ignored by the Knox County Schools administration and the Knox County Board of Education. Based on our history with such recommendations, this is not an unwarranted concern. The difference between the 2007 task force recommendations and the 2017 recommendations, however, is that Knox County Schools has been moving forward with the recommendations this time around. Those whose livelihoods depend on suspending or incarcerating high numbers of youth, as well as those who depend on using those incarcerations to move their political agendas must be terrified that we will succeed in helping our students find better coping behaviors that help them stay in school, graduate on time, and move on to be excellent citizens.

 


 


 Other reading on the topic:

http://knoxfocus.com/2016/05/disparities-in-educational-outcomes-task-force-shares-draft-recommendations/

http://knoxfocus.com/2016/06/school-board-votes-to-approve-amended-disparities-resolution/


Members of the original Disparities in Educational Outcomes Task Force

  • Charme Allen, Knox Co. District Attorney General
  • Elizabeth Alves, KCS Exec. Dir. of Curriculum
  • Pastor Daryl Arnold, Overcoming Believers Church
  • Tomma Battle, parent
  • Susan Benner, University of Tennessee
  • Adolphus Brown, Coldwell Banker
  • Terry Brown, Knox County Juvenile Court
  • Dr. John Butler, Clinton Chapel AME Zion Church
  • Andre Canty, Highlander Research & Education Center
  • Michelle Casini, KCS Spanish Teacher
  • Ronni Chandler, Project GRAD
  • Maurice Chunn, KCS student
  • Tanya Coats, KCS Curriculum Specialist, Farragut IS
  • Clifford Davis, KCS Chief of Staff
  • Rabbi Alon Ferency, Heska Amuna Synagogue
  • Rita Geier, retired attorney
  • Coral Getino, parent
  • Chad Hensley, KCS, SDHS Master Teacher
  • Timothy Irwin, Knox Co. Juvenile Court
  • Sheriff J.J. Jones, Knox County Sheriff’s Office
  • Kamau Kenyatta, KCS Asst. Principal – Karns MS
  • Nathan Langlois, KCS Principal – Austin-East HS
  • Sam Lee, Knox Co. General District Attorney
  • Rosa Mar, Retired Community Volunteer 
  • Missy Massie, KCS Exec. Dir. Student Support Services
  • Alise Ndacayisaba, student 
  • Phyllis Nichols, Knoxville Area Urban League
  • Randy Nichols, Knox County Sheriff’s Office
  • Chief David Rausch, Knoxville Police Department
  • Mayor Madeline Rogero, City of Knoxville
  • Amber Rountree, Knox County Board of Education 
  • Mark Stephens, Knox County Public Defender’s Office
  • Thomas Strickland, City of Knoxville
  • Rosalyn Tillman, Pellissippi State Community College
  • Cindy White, KCS Principal – Vine Middle School
  • Kim Wilburn-Cullom, KCS Principal – Maynard Elem.

Current Steering Committee Members

  • Andre Canty– Co-chair, Highlander Research & Education Center
  • Jered Croom– Co-chair, Parent Representative
  • Bob Thomas, Superintendent, Knox County Schools
  • Charme Allen, Knox Co. District Attorney General
  • Chania Arnold, KCS Student
  • Tomma Battle, Parent
  • Christian Blair, KCS Student
  • Terry Brown, Knox County Juvenile Court
  • John Butler, Clinton Chapel AME Zion Church
  • Emma Cosigua, Parent
  • Coral Getino, Parent
  • Alex Lundy, KCS Student
  • Rosa Mar, CEO, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
  • Phyllis Nichols, President, Knoxville Area Urban League
  • Randy Nichols, Knox County Sheriff Department
  • Angela Patrick, Teacher, Belle Morris Elementary
  • David Rausch, Chief, Knoxville Police Department
  • Bryson Rosser, Teacher, Central High School
  • Mark Stephens, Knox County Public Defender Office
  • Rosalyn Tillman, Dean, Pellissippi State Com. College
  • Juan Villegas, KCS Student
  • Cindy White, Principal, Vine Middle School
  • Missy Massie, KCS Dir., Student Support Services
  • Jeannie Dulaney, KCS Director of Community Relations

 

 

A Board Governs Through Policy - Part 1

 

I implore you to learn about policy changes that took place during the previous administration and ask your school board members to return responsibility for managing KCS to the BOE. It is their DUTY under the law. Delegating this responsibility to one person is reckless and irresponsible.

For years, people have asked how/why the KCS superintendent had so much unchecked power.
They asked why nobody could do anything about it.
The answer is pretty simple:
A Board sets policy and their policies empowered him.

The argument between managing or micro-managing is pointless.
These policies determine whether the supervisor manages the employee or the employee manages the supervisor. If the employee isn’t willing to be managed and/or if the supervisor isn’t willing to manage, it is time for a change.


A Board governs through policy.

Waiting until AFTER something happens is an extremely poor way to govern. By that same token, creating a policy that delegates authority away fromScreen Shot 2016-12-07 at 2.27.51 AM those who have a duty to manage closes the door on oversight and transparency.

For the past three months, I have been trying to help others understand the seriousness of some of the policy changes that took place under the previous administration. The interim superintendent has railed against anything that limits his unchecked power and continues making unprecedented changes to positions as well as to the entire administrative reporting structure. The current Board seems to have a serious lack of concern for doing their job and correcting this situation.


Policy change introduction, presented to the BOE at the December 5th work session:

These four policies were changed during the previous administration. At that time, we had a superintendent with a management style that was very top-heavy – and some have gone so far as to call it “dictatorial.” Yes, there was “a reason” these policies were changed:

  • These changes made it easier for mis-management to work, unencumbered by questions or transparency.
  • These changes delegated away the Board’s legal duty to “manage and control all public schools established or that may be established under its jurisdiction” (T.C.A. 49-2-203)
  • Related to the duty to manage, there was an opinion expressed in the Supreme Court of TN, which (though not always embraced) has remained legally true for nearly 40 years:

The duties of the superintendent are highly important but they do not, with respect to essential features of school management, override the authority of the school board. Naturally, the superintendent’s advice will be given much consideration, but the ultimate responsibility and the finality as to choice rests with the school board.”

This quote continues with the following (which was not read in the Dec. 5th meeting):

It may act on its own sound judgement as to what is required by the public welfare, and contrary to advice from any source, even from the superintendent of schools. The school board is still the master and not the servant. 201 Tenn. 190-191, 297 S.W.2d 640”  (All from 558 S.W.2d 838 (1977), Sanders vs Vinson, et al. December 5, 1977)

That we are STILL having this problem – almost 40 years later – should be alarming.

 


Policy A-100
School District – School Board Legal Status and Authority.

This policy was revised 7/16, as the Board’s 5-4 voting bloc was running out of time in office.

3885_A-100 School District-School Board Legal Status and Authority Second Reading Revisions 
(This is the red-lined version.)

My focus was to make this simple: just revert to the previous policy.

It would be a simple matter of replacing the one line that had been removed and renumbering:

“2 Approve the number of positions of employment & salary schedule for such positions”

Easy, right?

No.

It seems the misuse of semicolons is/was of no consequence to anyone, with the exception of the one between item #1 and #2. A Board member said it looks like #2 refers to #1, yet when I asked what they would like to see to make it clear. I got nothing constructive.

It would have been very easy to make a friendly amendment to move #2 to the top of the list, add the word “system-wide,” or just change all of the semi-colons to periods. Though several took issue with the language, nobody presented any amendment to make it more agreeable to them. Instead, the policy passed on first reading.

A full month later, Terry Hill stated in the work session that she still has a problem with the language and wants to invoke “personal privilege” to put off the second reading until January. She doesn’t want to DO anything to improve it – just put it off for 30 days…

 

PERSONAL PRIVILEGE

The reason this is significant is that this Personal Privilege ends all discussion and there can be nothing more said until the January meeting. The interim superintendent can continue creating, changing, or terminating positions however he likes. He may set the salary for those positions to be whatever he likes and create any job description and reporting structure he likes, as long as it can be funded within the present budget. In other words, if he wants to terminate 47 employees and create 5 brand new positions that report to the supervisor of underwater basket weaving, he can – as long as he does so within budgeted cost of those 47 terminated employees.

He (or the next super) can absolutely do that – and anything else you might imagine. And your elected Board won’t be able to do a darn thing about it (unless we begin another expensive termination process), because we GAVE him that power. 

Crazy? Yep.

And that is how we have been operating for the past several years.

Unchecked.

Unencumbered.

Unhinged.

 

And this is only the beginning.
Please watch for part II.
(If you can’t wait for the continuation, links to the other three policies are at the bottom.)



 

SPOILER ALERT!
  
 
 
 
 
 

Suggested Policy Revisions to Return Responsibility to the KC BOE

At the Board retreat in October, I presented a list of close to 30 policy revisions that I believe we need to consider as soon as possible. Of those, I will bring five to the October 31st work session and the November 2nd meeting. 

It has become important to note that these policies are not about individuals, past or present, in any position. This is not an attempt to control who is in what position. That is not my job – and I don’t want that job.

This is simply an attempt to return to the Board, the ability to meet our responsibility to manage this LEA. This is not about hiring or firing people. This is about the Board and the public having a clear understanding of exactly what positions are created, how much those positions cost the taxpayers, how that impacts the budget, and giving the Board the ability to do the job we are tasked with doing.

There has been some discussion that these changes will not align with the interim superintendent’s contract and the “corporate model” he has agreed to work under. He has stated that he will not work under these conditions.  Therefore, additional consideration may need to be given to whether to make adjustments there OR whether some of these should simply include a note that they will begin when the new superintendent is hired (or June 1).

POLICY A-100

Policy A-100 (Formerly ABB) was changed twice under the last administration. The first change, in March 2011, renumbered the policy as A-100 and removed the Board’s responsibility “to approve the number of positions of employment.” This left the 2011 version saying only that the Board would “approve salary schedules for positions.”

The policy was adjusted again in June and July of this year, as the administration was changing. That new language removed all mention of the Board approving positions and salaries for those positions. It now mentions ONLY approving salaries of teachers and leaves all other salaries and numbers of positions to the sole whim of the superintendent.

As good stewards of public tax dollars, I believe we need to correct this oversight as quickly as possible. Therefore, I will make the motion to accept our responsibility for managing the Knox County Schools by inserting the following language (from the 2008 policy) as number 2 under “DUTIES OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION:”

Approve the number of positions of employment and salary schedule for such positions
[To begin June 1, 2017.]

This is the exact language from #2 under “Duties” in the 2008 policy manual, under ABB. This change will cause a renumbering of the duties which follow, but does not remove any language or authority.

POLICY B-140

  • Board policy B-111 lists the Director of Schools (aka: superintendent) as an executive officer of the Board with both a secretarial and advisory duties.
  • B-140 causes that executive officer to serve as a member of the executive committee, along with the Chair of the Board of Education.
  • Policy B-162 requires the executive committee to deliberate by giving it responsibility for “developing an agenda for each Board meeting,”
  • The Open Meetings Act requires all committees that report to the Board, are subcommittees of the Board, or make recommendations to the Board, to have meetings noticed (sunshined).
  • The Executive Board has been thought to have an ability to make “emergency” decisions on behalf of the Board. This is not a legal function of the executive committee, nor is that function in policy.
  • Since the superintendent, serves as an ex officio member of this body, it is important that we make clear whether the actions of the executive committee may be deliberative or not.

Ex officio:

because of your job, office, or position;
by virtue or because of an office;
adj. to describe someone who has a right because of an office held, such as being allowed to sit on a committee because one is president of the corporation.

In the interests of transparent government, if those meetings are not open, no deliberation should occur and no decision-making should take place. If the meetings are to serve any function that will cause them to have any decision-making authority, those meetings should be
appropriately noticed to the public.

To help this policy and our executive committee meet the requirements of the Open Meetings Act (TCA 8-44-102(b) ), I will make the following motion:

Any meeting of the executive committee, which may involve deliberation, decision-making, and or recommendations to the board, shall be open to the public and shall require public notice at least 48 hours prior to the meeting.

Current board members shall be allowed to observe meetings of the executive committee at any time, whether the meeting is open to the public or closed. Board members who attend as observers may not comment, discuss, or deliberate with the committee and their attendance will not require additional public notice.

 

POLICY C-110 – Lines of Authority and Staff Relations

In 2011, the Board relinquished responsibility for approving lines of authority and organization within the school district, handing that responsibility entirely to the superintendent by changing the first two lines of the policy.

The first two lines of the 2008 policy:
“The Director of Schools shall establish lines of authority which shall be approved by the Board and communicated to employees.”

The first two lines of the 2011 policy:
“The Board authorizes the Director of Schools to establish efficient organizational lines of authority and staff relations which shall be communicated to employees.”

Our current inability to create a full organizational chart for the district is indicative of the problems caused when lines of authority are unclear or constantly changing. In the interest of transparent government and accepting our fiduciary responsibility as the elected Board of Education, it is urgent that we revert the first two lines of policy C-110 to the language used in the 2008 policy. Therefore, I make a motion that we remove the first two lines of the current policy, C-110 and replace them with the following:

“The Director of Schools shall establish lines of authority which shall be approved by the Board and communicated to employees.”

 

POLICY C-132

2008 LANGUAGE:

“All administrative and supervisory positions in the school system are established initially by the Board, by state law, or State Board Rules, Regulations, and Minimum Standards. In each case, the Board will approve the broad purpose and function of the position in accord with state laws and state regulations, approve a statement of duties as recommended by the Director of Schools, and delegate to the Director of Schools the task of writing, or causing to be written, a job description for the position.

LANGUAGE CHANGED IN 2011

“The Board authorizes the Director of Schools to establish administrative and supervisory positions in the school system as constrained by the Board approved budget, by state law, and State Board Rules, Regulations, and Minimum Standards. The Director of Schools will develop a written job description for each position established.”

This motion will bring the policy in line with current practices. The current policy states that the superintendent will write each job description. As that responsibility is normally delegated to department supervisors and/or the Human Resources department, the policy should be changed to reflect that.

Proposed motion:

To remove the current language:
“The Director of Schools will develop a written job description for each position established,”
and replace it with:
“The Board will approve the broad purpose and function of the position, as recommended by the Director of Schools, and delegate to the Director of Schools the task of writing, or causing to be written, a job description for the position.”

I believe this covers the function of the previous language, allows the director to delegate the responsibility, as needed, and still removes the superfluous duplication regarding following the rules, laws, etc.

FORMER POLICY CO

This policy has either been completely removed at some point or it was missed when the policies were renumbered. The motion will be to put this policy back in the manual, exactly as it was before:

The Director of Schools shall report monthly the names of newly employed personnel.
The Director of Schools shall make annual reports concerning conditions of efficiency and needs of the school system. Included in the reports shall be information regarding employment of instructional staff as follows:

  1. Number of applicants interviewed and the number employed;
  2. Procedures being used to ensure that the best applicants are being selected;
  3. Evidence that all non-tenured teachers were evaluated;
  4. Number of non-tenured teachers;
  5. Number of teachers non-renewed;
  6. Summary and explanation of how our school system is meeting the state and national requirement[s] of the No Child Left Behind Act and other mandated accountability measures.

Board members shall be made aware of all reports prepared by the Director of Schools’ office for transmittal to the local legislative body, the State Department of Education, or any federal agency.

The words, “of the No Child Left Behind Act” can be removed and an s added at the end of requirements, to bring the policy in line with current and future federally named requirements.