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BoE Considers Policy Changes

Proposed Revisions Consistent with New State Requirements

The minimum age at which a student may drop out of school would be raised from 16 to 17 under a policy change proposed this week by the Ledyard Board of Education. The change was among several policy revisions presented by board member Gordon Strickland, who chairs the policy committee.

Strickland said most of the changes are consistent with new state requirements. The minimum drop-out age, for example, was raised at the state level in an effort to improve graduation rates, particularly in the state’s urban centers.

The board considered policy revisions in several areas, including parent and community organizations, cyberbullying, student-administered medications, residency requirements and graduation requirements.

The district updated its bullying policy two years ago to include cyberbullying. Revisions to the policy would incorporate definitions provided by the state.

“‘Cyberbullying’ means any act of bullying through use of the Internet, interactive and digital technologies, cellular mobile telephone or other mobile electronic devices or any electronic communications,” the new policy reads. In particular, the new policy seeks to include social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and Myspace.

“Bullying of any form will not be tolerated in Ledyard Public Schools. The Board prohibits bullying:

  • On school grounds, at a school-sponsored or school-related activity, function or program whether on or off school grounds, at a school bus stop, on a school bus or other vehicle owned, leased or used by Ledyard Public Schools, or through the use of an electronic device or an electronic mobile device owned, leased or used by Ledyard Public Schools; and
  • Outside the school setting if such bullying: (1) creates a hostile environment at school for the student against whom such bullying was directed; (2) infringes on the rights of the student against whom such bullying was directed at school; or (3) substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school.”

A proposed new policy would provide guidelines for parent-community organizations. The policy directs groups to adopt bylaws that establish their name, rules and procedures and an agreement to adhere to all board policies.

“This is not intended to be onerous, but rather to set expectations to make things better for them and for us,” Strickland said.

The board reviewed changing its student medication policy to permit students on overnight school-sponsored trips to self-administer medications, with the exception of controlled drugs, provided they have authorization by the school nurse.

It considered a revision to its Proof of Residency policy to designate specific documents that may be used to establish residency. In the past, the policy stated that the school administration may require proof of residency. The new policy makes it easier to do so.

Along with raising the minimum age at which a student may leave school, the new policy would also provide for prompt readmission, should the student reconsider.

Finally, the board considered amending its graduation policy to allow students to receive credit toward graduation for foreign language, advanced math and other course work competed either in middle school or elsewhere outside the high school. Students would be tested to demonstrate proficiency.

With this change, Strickland said, “some real motivated kids could really push it and graduate after three years.”

The board is expected to take action on the policy revisions at its next regular meeting in August.

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