First Day

Students enter Dothan High School during the first day of classes.

Dothan City Schools could remove “Saturday school” as a means to punish misbehaving students if revisions suggested to the code of conduct are passed by the school board.

Dothan Preparatory Satellite and Special Projects Campus Principal Darius McKay introduced the changes to the coming school year’s handbook that outline, in detail, violations alongside respective punishments to the city school board at its work session Thursday.

All instances that assigned Saturday school as a punishment are recommended to be replaced with in-school suspension.

“It takes additional funding to fund a teacher to work outside of their contract hours,” McKay said, which is the primary reason for the change. “Both principals agreed to completely take it out of our responsibilities.”

Punishment’s details

Saturday school requires students attending Dothan Prep and Dothan High School to come to their respective physical campus for a four-hour period. ISS requires students be placed in a separate environment within their school apart from their regular class during the entirety of a regular school day.

McKay facilitated group discussions that included parents, administrators, students, teachers and central office officials, who recommended the change.

“We wanted to take a stand on vaping and also with bus discipline for fighting because it’s really major,” McKay said. “People don’t realize that bus drivers’ main responsibility is to drive the bus and not to stop fights, so hopefully that will deter students from fighting.”

The revisions recommended are to sentence students who are caught fighting on a school bus to 90 days of PASS Academy for their first violation. On the second violation, they are recommended for expulsion, in alignment with the practice for schools.

Currently, the punishment for fighting on a school bus is a 30-day suspension from the school bus.

McKay added that a stricter code of conduct implemented this last school year has been helpful in limiting distractions during instructional time, and it is administrators’ job to be consistent in enforcing the code and its consequences.

The recommendation will come before the board again at its next meeting Monday at 5 p.m. in its new central office boardroom on Honeysuckle Road. Superintendent Phyllis Edwards has preemptively recommended tabling action on the item until April so the board has the opportunity to review the changes and receive pertinent feedback from the community.

In other actions:

» The board approved a contract for Stephanie Walker, who was recently appointed the system’s chief school financial officer.

The one-year contract offered Walker a $119,500 annual salary with 15 days of paid vacation per year.

» The board joined several other districts in Alabama in adopting a resolution to oppose school start date legislation introduced in the state Legislature that would remove local school boards’ authority to set local school calendar dates.

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