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Student handbook addresses cell phones, dress code
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There weren’t any major changes recommended for next year’s student handbook, but the Board of Education did approve a few updates and additions to some of the existing rules.

The board recently reviewed and approved changes to the student handbook for the upcoming 2008-2009 term in a called meeting April 24.

"The handbook is updated every year by a committee of principals after they meet with staff and parents to receive suggestions for changes and/or any necessary additions," Schools Superintendent Dr. Sallie Brewer said.

Board member Joe Pacenka requested a review and explanation of the changes.

Here’s what Brewer had to say about the additions and changes:

- The response to tardiness has been updated. "We decided last year if a student were to have three or more tardiness or early dismissals per nine weeks it would equal the loss of perfect attendance status. We started that this year and now have it added to the handbook," Brewer said. "There were students who were coming in late and leaving early, but it was not enough to count as a missed class. This rule addresses that issue."

- Brewer said there will be an option for more severe punishments if and when any inappropriate materials are found on school grounds.

- When students are suspended from school, if they are seen on campus it is considered criminal trespassing. "The resource officer said it is considered criminal trespassing if they are suspended or expelled and seen at school," Brewer said, noting this includes attending any school events or extracurricular activities.

- The handbook will now have additional clarification of offenses for dress code violations.

- Possession of cell phones punishments have been updated. For example, a warning will be given for the first offense and a second offense will lead to In School Suspension or Saturday school. If a cell phone is used for cheating purposes or disrupts school, there will be more severe consequences. Brewer said several principals have said they continue seeing problems with cell phones in schools.

- At the request of military parents, the handbook’s already-existent rule about special military absences is going to be highlighted and put in bold font.

- At the request of a nurse, they will highlight and bold the font in the handbook regarding the rule about children who have been ill, who are required to have had a normal temperature for at least 24 hours before they return to school.

During the regular meeting, the board approved the printing of next year’s student handbook. The low bid of printing was awarded to Coastal Digital Reprographics and Design of Pooler. The printing of 9,500 student handbooks will be $1.90 per handbook for a final price tag of $18,050.


In other business:

- The board approved the second reading of the draft for the new graduation policy, effective for the 2008-2009 school year for incoming high school freshman. It will be available online soon, Brewer said.

- Judy Crosby pointed out that Chairman Eddie Warren failed to complete the 2006-2007 superintendent evaluation. The annual performance evaluations are required by the state and, according to Title 20 of the Georgia Code, are to be filled out by each of the superintendent’s board of education members. "This June, it’ll be time for a new evaluation. How can we do this when last year’s hasn’t been completed?" Crosby asked him. Warren said the evaluation and review were completed – but not in written form – and he will have the written evaluation ready by the May board meeting.

- The board received bids for the district’s workers’ compensation insurance plan and will take a vote in May after Financial Advisor Melanie James reviews differences between the bid and plan specifications.

- At the request of Jeff Morton, the board will explore the possibility of bidding out fleet and property liability insurances next year. Brewer said they re-bid when it will be to their advantage, but keeping their current companies that are meeting their needs is the best choice this year.

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