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School trustees delay action on probation, bullying, self-reporting
by Jill Lufrano
Jan 12, 2012 | 1372 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/Jill Lufrano - Grant Overby, an 8-year-old student at Lena Juniper Elementary School, is comforted by his father, Garnett Overby III, on Tuesday evening at the Washoe County School District Administration Building in Reno as Grant prepares to give his presentation about Martin Luther King, Jr. An image of Dr. King can be seen on the screen in the background.
Tribune/Jill Lufrano - Grant Overby, an 8-year-old student at Lena Juniper Elementary School, is comforted by his father, Garnett Overby III, on Tuesday evening at the Washoe County School District Administration Building in Reno as Grant prepares to give his presentation about Martin Luther King, Jr. An image of Dr. King can be seen on the screen in the background.
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RENO — The Washoe County School District board trustees decided Tuesday night to allow more time for staff, parents and students to weigh in on three new policies regarding employee probation and evaluation, mandatory staff self-reporting and anti-bullying in schools.

The board members will learn more about the policies in a workshop, possibly behind closed doors, they decided at their regular meeting before taking no action on the three state-mandated items.

Trustee Dan Carne started the commentary on the policies when he said he would vote them down out of principle. Carne said his issue was with the way the policies were written by staff and handed to the board before allowing the public to comment.

“I think it’s unfair to the public to hear what we’ve said tonight and have one reading after this,” Carne said.

Other trustees agreed.

The board policies in question stem from several mandates by the Nevada Legislature: AB222 and AB225, Licensed Employee Probation and Evaluation; AB393, Mandatory Self-Reporting by Staff; and SB276, Safe and Respectful Learning Environment.

The first issue created a stir among some board members who debated the meaning of the policy, prompting discussion and eventual tabling of all three action items. According to the wording, the current policy would change the probationary period for newly hired, licensed employees from two to three years. Each year would be counted separately, staff said Tuesday night.

The second policy addressed mandatory self-reporting by staff, requiring the board to enact policy that included “an identification of the crimes for which an arrest or conviction must be reported; the person to whom the report must be made; and the time period after the arrest or conviction in which the report must be made,” according to the staff report.

Under the new policy, all employees would be required to report to his or her supervisors any charge, arrest or conviction of a crime involving a minor, a felony or any misdemeanor (except for minor traffic violations, but to include driving under the influence). The report must be made within 24 hours of the charge, arrest or conviction and failure to report would result in disciplinary proceedings.

The third board policy under consideration related to anti-bullying, cyber bullying, intimidation and harassment. The policy outlined a program to address several aspects of these issues within the schools and on school-owned property.

With the proposed policy several actions are mandated to create a positive environment. All administrators, teachers, support personnel and other staff would participate in training to promote positive relations among pupils and staff and aim to deter bullying, cyber bullying, harassment and intimidation.

The district would also institute a new system to report these negative behaviors to school police or administration and ensure actions to stop the behaviors and incidents. Schools would establish safety teams to promote safe environments and assist in investigations and other actions.

The board members unanimously decided to delay action on the three policy decisions. They discussed having a workshop in the future, possibly in a closed session before a board meeting.

According to state statute, the policies do not set a time limit as to when districts must put them into place.

In other action, trustees elected new officers Tuesday night. Trustee Ken Grein, representing southeast Reno and old southwest Reno, was elected president. Trustee John Mayer, representing Sparks and the south half of Sun Valley, was elected vice president. Trustee Estela Gutierrez, member at large, was elected clerk of the board.

The board also awarded the only bidder, AT&T Mobility, the leases for communication antenna sites at Spanish Springs and Incline Village high schools. The bid came in at $16,800 annually for each site — exactly the maximum amount set by the district.
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