Board Presentation on Policy 105.2

 In my examination of Policy 105.2 Excuse From Instruction/Assessment, I tried to look at it from the student and parent point of view.  At first reading there were many terms and phrases that I believed were very general and could be misunderstood in many ways.  This would be one of the first reasons why I believe the Policy as it stands is not parent/student user friendly.  Most of my fears about this problem were settled with our meeting with Dr. Kerr & Dr. McNelly. But I would like to point out these areas and how they were intended to be resolved after our meeting.

 In Section 1:  Purpose. The phrase “conflict with their religious beliefs” was used twice.  A parent would be concerned about who would set the standard of approval and judge what was valid or invalid conflict of religious beliefs.  I was assured that this would not be an inquisition, but simply a check for conviction of conscience. It was agreed that additional wording of explanation might make that intent more clear and less threatening.

In Section 2: Responsibility. The policy states that a written request must be submitted at least 6 days in advance.  While discussing the difficult logistics of this, the Administration assured us that this was not hard and fast, and could be lengthened or shortened to the parents/teacher/student needs.  We suggested that that be included in the policy.

Section 2 also states that the District will determine replacement educational activities.  This also could be threatening to a parent or student, but it was stated by the Superintendent that the replacement activities would be mutually discussed and agreed upon by the parent and staff. Also the administration stated that if the activity was not a required educational standard by the State or District, there might not be a need for a replacement activity.

Also in Section 2 the policy delegates the responsibility of receiving permission to leave the classroom to the student.  This would be a difficult personal situation in front of a class for the student, especially if in an elementary setting.  The administration assured us that the student would not be made uncomfortable in front of the class while carrying out this responsibility.

Section 2 also requires that a copy of the request be put in the student’s cumulative folder.  Examining other District’s policies, it was discovered that all districts do not require this be done.  We strongly objected to this part of the policy.  If this is not required by the State this would seem to be unnecessary and very threatening to the student and parent.  The Administration agreed to check into that requirement.

Agreeing that a policy cannot be overly wordy, it was suggested that a supplement of explanations of the policy be appended to the policy to add additional detail that would reassure the parent and student of how this policy would be carried out without a sense of punishment or stigma attached.