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School Board Postpones Several Policy Updates

Phyllis Fletcher
12/07/2011

The Seattle School District is rewriting its own rules. The policy manual: the rules that tell students and staff what to do, how to handle sticky situations. The school board is scheduled to consider a major overhaul to those rules Wednesday. But about a dozen changes are on hold. KUOW's Phyllis Fletcher explains.

TRANSCRIPT

Seattle Public Schools has changed its rules one–by–one for years. So, its policy manual has pages that are redundant, that conflict with each other. Some rules are obsolete and some that should be there, aren't.

Wednesday is the first time the board will try to fix that for rules that apply to students. But some rules still won't be there because the district is now putting them in a pile to deal with later.

Some of the rules in that pile would have addressed problems that have disturbed students, parents and teachers.

One was a new policy to let teachers know if one of their students was a Level II or III sex offender. An investigation by KIRO–TV last year informed many parents of sex offenders in their children's schools. State law does not let schools tell parents.

Another update that's on hold concerns child abuse or neglect. Teachers and counselors have complained that those rules have been unclear, particularly when a suspected abuser works at the school. The district has proposed a clarification that says when school employees suspect a colleague has abused a student, they have to report it to their bosses and to Child Protective Services.

The delayed change that's gotten the most attention is about student newspapers.

KUOW broke the story last month that the district had proposed an end to students' freedom of the press.

Students objected, and within days the superintendent said the policy was withdrawn.

A spokesperson for the district says policies that have been withdrawn and put on hold are evidence their process has worked. The district says it will do even more to get public input on the next group of changes.

I'm Phyllis Fletcher, KUOW News.

© Copyright 2011, KUOW

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