Student Handbook Created For Whole School System


July 24, 2017

There will be one handbook for the entire Transylvania County school system next year instead of each school having its own student handbook, Jeremy Gibbs, director of academic services, told the Transylvania County Board of Education last week.

In past years, each school had its own handbook, which sometimes created confusion and problems, particularly in relation to discipline.

“I like it because it is going to be the same for everybody,” said school board member Alice Wellborn of having one handbook. “I like that all parents have access to the same information.”

Wellborn said that in the past she had looked at handbooks from each school and learned that some of the procedures, such as discipline, were not the same.

Board member Betty Scruggs McGaha said having a handbook is important, but asked if teachers would still review the student conduct guidelines at the beginning of the year.

Gibbs said that principals are expected to make sure those guidelines are reviewed, either in a large assembly setting or in individual classes.

Gibbs said the handbook will cover general information, but that information specific to a school, such as the car line procedure, would be included in other documents.

McGaha then questioned how cell phone use and dress code violations would be handled. She said she thought the cell phone policy stated that cell phones are not to be used during the instructional day, but she has seen students regularly using cell phones in hallways and lunch.

“If we have a policy, we need to implement it,” said McGaha.

Superintendent Dr. Jeff McDaris said that some policies, such as cell phone use, are going to be revised in the fall, but due to the timing of presenting the handbooks at the beginning of school, older policies would be in the handbook. He said that when the policy is revised it would be “a very different policy.”

Gibbs said the current policy also gives principals some discretion as to when cell phones can be used.

Regarding the dress code, McGaha asked if parents would be contacted about a violation.

Gibbs said there is no requirement that parents be contacted, but that it is a “best practice” for teachers to contact parents whenever violations occur.

McGaha said some parents are surprised when they are told their child has violated the dress code three times, but they were not informed of the previous violations.

“I, as a parent, would want to know if there is a problem,” said McGaha.

Gibbs said that when there is some discipline involved, there is an expectation that the parents would be contacted.

McDaris said the school system does have consequences for dress code violations, but that occasionally some parents, when informed their child has violated the dress code, are fine with their child violating the dress code.

“I’ve been through that,” said McGaha, a former school administrator.

Board Chairwoman Tawny McCoy said principals should emphasize that the dress code applies to all school functions, not just during the school day.

“If you are being honored at a banquet, then you should be following the dress code,” said McCoy.

Wellborn said the dress code should be presented in terms of helping students be ready for the work world.

“There are things you have to wear to work, or not wear to work,” said Wellborn. “In the real world, this is how you need to dress to be taken seriously.”

“I’m afraid we’re not quite enforcing that expectation,” said McCoy.

Both Wellborn and fellow board member Marty Griffin also said that some teachers do not dress appropriately and that, according to Griffin, “the example starts at the top.”

Griffin said he has seen some teachers, as well as students, dressed inappropriately.

“To me coming to school is like going to a job,” said Griffin.

He said he told his students that employers want to know if students came to school on time and “then they look at grades.”

“And as far as I’m concerned, dress is the same as being on time and not being late,” said Griffin.

McCoy said she knows administrators try to enforce the dress code and have staff dress appropriately.

In a related discussion of policies affecting students, Wellborn asked how many requests the county fields for students to attend school out-of-district.

McDaris said the central office receives about four or five requests a day. He said, for example, some students may live in the Rosman district, but their parents work near Pisgah Forest Elementary and vice versa.

He also said the county schools have between 30 to 40 students who live in Henderson County.

McDaris said the new legislation restricting class size in kindergarten through third grade could affect transfers in the future.

Griffin asked how the county handles transportation for homeless students.

McDaris said most homeless students use buses, but if there are some in remote locations where buses cannot travel, the county will pay mileage to the person who brings the child to school.

He also said the school system attempts to transport the child to their “home school.” In one instance, that meant providing transportation to the Henderson County line, where a Henderson County bus then transported the student to his “home school” in Henderson County.

“We try to work with them,” said McDaris. “We just want them in school.”

Superintendent’s Update

•McDaris said that some of the roofs, especially the one at the Morris Education Center, are leaking again due to summer rainfall. He said the cost of repairing the roof would be approximately $38,000.

•McDaris reported that Brevard High School would host the NCDPI Digital Learning Summit for all of Western North Carolina on Aug. 3.

•McDaris said 22 new personnel have been hired for the upcoming school year. He said that is fewer than last year, but that filling positions is becoming more challenging because fewer college students in North Carolina are pursuing teaching as a career.

Board Vice Chairman Ron Kiviniemi asked if the state was still paying a supplement for teachers who receive their national board certification.

Brian Weaver, senior director of human resources, said the state has taken no action to reduce funding for national board certification.

He said many teachers are now pursuing national board certification instead of a master’s degree because teachers no longer receive a supplement for obtaining a master’s degree while they receive a 12 percent supplement for obtaining national board certification.


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