After a slew of revisions to the Houston County School Student Code of Conduct were approved at Monday night’s school board meeting, offenses by students riding a bus will now treated as if the offenses were committed on school campuses.
A committee led by Director of Federal Programs Derrick Morris, made up of bus drivers, parents, students, and certified personnel, felt like the punishment for offenses on buses needed to align with school campuses’.
The prime example of inconsistency over the years has been punishment for fights. If it occurred on campus, students would receive an automatic referral to alternative school for a minimum of three days and up to 45 days, depending on the circumstances and past behavior of the student. If a fight were to occur on a bus, a student would only face suspension from the bus.
“A fight is a fight no matter where it happens,” Morris said. “(The committee) feel the buses are an extension of the classroom. We had bus drivers on the committee, and we felt it was important to have their voices heard.”
The board of education also approved listing possession of paraphernalia associated with tobacco or e-cigarette or nicotine use a Class II offense.
Morris said the language was important to add because with changing times, there are new ways to consume tobacco or nicotine using different products. E-liquids, vaporizers, and disposable pods that hold e-liquids, for example, are all considered paraphernalia.
If a student violates an intermediate offense, they are subject to a student conference and parental contact, disciplinary action such as corporal punishment, after school detention, in-school suspension (I.S.S.), and/or bus suspension for three days if the offense occurred on the bus. Circumstances may warrant assignment to alternative school for a period of three to 10 days.
The new code of conduct also took steps to broaden the school’s ability to crack down on students’ behavior as it relates to cell phone use while they’re at school. Now, if a student were to send written or verbal propositions for sex acts via social media while the student is on campus, he or she would be subject to punishment by the administration of the school for a Class II offense, as well as intervention by the law.
While Morris said the schools have not had a problem yet with this occurring yet, the committee felt it important to stay in touch with the times by reflecting students’ adoption of technology into school policies.
“The committee felt the need to be proactive rather than reactive,” he said.
Cell phones and ear buds will also no longer be allowed while students are in the hallways of schools.
The committee also made amendments to the dress code policy, instructing that no blankets be worn at school.
Additionally, extortion was listed as a major offense alongside grand theft, larceny, and stealing.
The changes will take effect in the 2019-2020 school year.
Other business items:
>> Approved a revision to raise the limit for the cost of hotel rooms booked by any school employee to $250 per night unless given prior approval by the superintendent or chief school financial officer, retroactive to Oct. 1, 2018.
>> Approved the lowest bid for Cottonwood High School storm damage repair to gym and football bleachers in the amount of $447,923 by Kent Consolidated Construction in Dothan.
>> Tabled an action to rebid the lawn care for Houston County schools.
>> Approved an asbestos abatement for the Cottonwood High School gym floor in the amount of $27,000.
>> Approved the sale of Harmon School to highest bidder.