Final summer school forum addresses discipline and COVID response for school year
August 19, 2021
DAYTON–The School District held its final summer forums August 12; one for the elementary and one for middle and high school. Superintendent Guy Strot led the forums and was assisted by Elementary Principal Amy Cox and Middle and High School Principal Kristina Brown. Far fewer people attended than previous forums, only about 20 for the elementary forum and about half that many for the middle and high school forum. Only a handful of staff attended between the two and no School Board members, though board candidate Aneesha Deiu was present for the elementary forum.
The topic of COVID requirements was the same for both meetings. The current requirements have come down from the CDC and the State of Washington. All students and staff must wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status, including on buses. However, the fully vaccinated who do not have symptoms do not have to quarantine after any exposure to COVID and may not have to be tested. Weekly screening for symptoms is only required for those playing high contact indoor sports such as basketball. No face coverings are required for athletes but they are for spectators.
One community member, Jeri Fulbright, asked administrators "to be open minded" about not requiring children to wear masks. Superintendent Strot responded to say that personally he is in favor of parental choice about masks for their children and personal choice about masking, but he has received notice from the district insurance company saying if they don't enforce the mask mandate, they won't be insured, and the State has said they would withdraw funding if the district didn't comply.
At the elementary forum, a behavior modification flowchart was provided as the basis of the approach for the coming school year. The distinction is made between minor infractions where the teacher assigns the consequence and major infractions where the principal assigns the consequence. Both kinds of offenses are divided into tiers with different consequences appropriate to the infraction. For example, for throwing food, the student would be tasked with cleaning up the lunch room. For major offenses, meeting with the school counselor, writing or delivering a report on a subject related to the misconduct could be asked of the student. Whether major or minor, parents will be communicated with more readily and consequences will be immediate. Principal Cox spoke about equal treatment and offered assurance that behaviors would not get in the way of learning.
For middle and high school, a packet explaining various student expectations and a progressive discipline policy was given out which included a flowchart. As with the elementary school, minor offenses such as not adhering to the dress code or causing lesser classroom disruptions will be handled by the teacher who will give out the consequences including lunch and after-school detentions. Major infractions like the possession, use or being under the influence of drugs or alcohol will be handled by the principal and the student will be expelled, which could possibly result in suspension followed by an investigation involving the police and a drug assessment. Bullying of a student would be investigated and the offender would be sent to the learning center and possibly expelled. For harassment of a teacher, the student would be immediately expelled and be given a Behavior Intervention Plan.
All offenses by students in all grades will be entered into the District system Skyward and the parent will be given a notification of the incident by email.
The District is offering a learning center in the library and it is a new approach being provided to the secondary students as a place of separation when they are being disruptive or are causing conflict with their peers. The space will also be used for tutoring.
Three counselors have been hired for the school year to support students: a K-12 counselor, an intervention counselor and a behavior specialist.
Another key change for the coming year is having an elementary principal which allows the superintendent to focus on those duties rather than having both.
Also, the school has installed higher quality surveillance cameras around campus and chemical sensors in the secondary school bathrooms.
Principal Brown reiterated something Superintendent Strot said, "We've focused on a new discipline policy, a revised discipline, but we're also focusing on trying to make it more positive." She also said, "We've just got to do things to continue to light that fire."
Strot made a point of explaining the District will not be teaching Critical Race Theory. Instead, they will concentrate on teaching equity and inclusivity, particularly for the impoverished.
Additional monthly forums are planned and are to be announced.