STAUNTON – Staunton City Schools updated its student handbook and code of conduct Monday night with the approval of the school board.
Among the changes that may cause the most concern for students is a restriction on cell phone use in the classroom. This also includes the use of earbuds, smartwatches and other electronic communication devices during the school day, per the policy.
“Video and audio recordings are not permitted,” the policy reads. “All personal electronic devices must be turned off and put away during instructional time. Students will be allowed to use their phones during lunch and between classes. ”
Superintendent Garett Smith said teachers have authority to allow students to use phones in class if needed for a project.
Failure to follow this policy, the school division said, can result in up to three days of out-of-school suspension as well as poor school standing, another new item in the policy.
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Students who violate the school division’s code of conduct will be at risk of being assigned poor school standing and losing privileges to participate in extracurricular activities, including athletics, academic clubs, school dances and all other school-sponsored events for a predetermined amount of time.
The policy states that this assignment of poor school standing cannot be appealed.
Among other changes to the policy was the elimination of the alternative-to-suspension center at Dixon Educational Center. In its place, Staunton will implement an alternative evening school focusing on restorative practices, per a release from the school division. Smith said only students who have a major offense or multiple offense risk the alternative evening school.
“The alternative evening school will help students stay on track for their diplomas and meet criteria to return to school through mediation, restitution, and restorative conversations,” the release said. “There will also be a mandatory second chance Saturday school for assigned secondary students who are repeatedly tardy, have unexcused absences and skip class.”
Staffing and space at Dixon was one reason for the change. With preschool, Head Start and a GED program at Dixon, space is limited. There is also a staffing shortage in the overall school division and this will allow some of the staff at Dixon to move to other schools. Smith said the evening school will be staffed by the student services department with a need for two people.
The school division is also increasing consequences for vaping at the secondary level.
“Students with multiple offenses will be subject to out-of-school suspensions, the alternative evening school program and loss of privileges due to poor school standing,” per a release. Students will also be required to attend an educational program on vaping, and parents of students with more than one offense will be required to participate in the educational program. Parents may also be required to meet with the superintendent to discuss solutions. ”
Per the policy, failure to participate in the meeting could result in a no-trespass ban from school for parents.
“We set these expectations with health and safety as the priorities,” the release read. “We know that healthy schools are safe schools. We take seriously the physical, mental and emotional well-being of everyone in our learning community, and it is at the center of every decision we make. ”
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Patrick Hite is The News Leader’s education reporter. Story ideas and tips always welcome. Contact Patrick (he / him / his) at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @Patrick_Hite. Subscribe to us at newsleader.com