Cell phone and athletic policies discussed
RIVERSIDE— What rules will govern cell phone use among Highland middle school students for the coming year? That was a main topic of discussion for the Highland Community School District board Monday evening.
The board discussed student handbooks for the 2013-14 school year during the meeting. The middle school handbook and its cell phone policy was the first topic of discussion. School board member Megan Allen wanted clarification from middle school principal Joel Diedrichs about what the cell phone policy is.
“At the middle school I just want your cell phone policy because that is something I hear about from parents,” Allen said. “You just have the first offense and the second offense. You don’t have exactly what is the policy.”
Diedrichs explained the students are allowed to bring their cell phones to school but should have them turned off during class. If it goes off during class, the teacher can take it away, and this would be the first offense. The student is then warned about his or her cell phone use during school, he said. The second time, the phone is taken from the student and not returned until an adult comes to the school to pick it up.
Students have the option of handing in their cell phones to the school secretary when they arrive at school, he said. This helps prevent the temptation to use cell phones during class.
“The cell phone policy is not in your handbook?” asked Highland Community School District Superintendent Chris Armstrong.
Diedrichs said discipline goes through the first and second offenses for students, which is in the handbook, although, he said, a specific cell phone policy is not outlined.
“I think that is where the confusion is,” Allen said. “When I talk to junior high parents it seems to be the impression is given it’s not consistent.”
Allen suggested the policy governing cell phone use be put into the handbook to clear up the confusion.
“It’s how you guys want it,” Diedrichs said. “I mean I can only monitor so much.”
“It’s not about the monitoring part,” Armstrong said. “It’s about what is your policy.”
Armstrong asked if the middle school students were allowed to have their cell phones on during lunch and passing time between classes. He also asked Diedrichs if the middle school students had to turn in their phones when entering a classroom. Diedrichs answered no to all of the questions.
Armstrong then suggested Diedrichs put this in the student handbook because it would clear up the confusion.
“It’s a fine line this day and age,” Diedrichs said. “I’d like to not have cell phones, period. That’d be great.”
The second topic that came up with the student handbooks was athletic eligibility for high school students.
Highland High School principal Angela Hazelett said there had been questions about when a student is ineligible to participate in sports and under what circumstances they would not be allowed to participate.
“This year I’ve gone to practices and pulled students out when the students have been consistently failing a class,” Hazelett said.
Hazelett asked the board members if they thought a policy governing athletes’ participation should be put into the handbook or left out.
“Quarter is when the eligibility is determined,” Armstrong said, when asked when the determination of eligibility is made by Allen.
Board member Cindy Michel asked when the ineligibility would happen for students who only play one sport. Would it be the following quarter when school is in session? Or would it carry over to the next year of the sports that student plays?
“At the end of the fourth quarter I don’t play softball or baseball,” Michel said. “I don’t play cross-country or football, which of course is the quarter of the next school year. All I play is basketball or wrestling. I’m never ineligible for a sport.”
Armstrong said the student still has to meet the eligibility requirements of the next year.
Michel asked again what if the student only played one sport. Would that student become ineligible for the first 30 days of the next season?
“It’s usually the other students or parents that always aren’t eligible to play things that bring it up,” Michel said. “This kid failed and never had to sit out of any sport.”
The board decided to look into the state’s policy with academic eligibility for students.
Other items that happened at the school board meeting included:
approving several share agreements with the Washington Community School District (WCSD) which were: sharing business manage Sue Rich 20 percent of the time with WCSD; sharing the WCSD’s transportation coordinator 20 percent of the time; sharing the maintenance service from WCSD 20 percent; and sharing the English Language Learner from WCSD three eighths of the time;
raising the prices of adult lunches to $3.20, middle school and high school student lunches to $2.20, and elementary student lunches to $2;
and approved the Lego League to apply for a mini grant from the Washington County Riverboat Foundation.
The next school board meeting will be held on July 8 at 6 p.m.