Students' Policies Are Under Review
District 56 Board offers equal protection in students’ policies
A majority of the District 56 Board of Trustees has voted to extend equal protection to homosexual and transgender students in all of its policies that affect students.
The action was taken Monday evening on a 4-3 vote during first reading of Section J, a massive portion of the overall district policies that have been under review for eight years. Second and final reading will be given this section in November.
Board member Patsy Sadler made the motion to add “sexual orientation” to all portions of Section J that have anti-discrimination clauses attached. Some sections, anti-bullying for instance, already have the phrase included, based on research that shows sexual orientation can be a grounds for discriminatory actions. No law requires the district to protect students based on sexual orientation (as it does for gender and race).
The overall policy regarding students passed on a 6-1 vote, with board member Tammy Stewart voting “no.” Board members were instructed to review the entire revamped policy and report concerns to the district administration.
Assistant Superintendent Dr. David Pitts said Section J allows some leeway for building administrators to use “common sense” when dealing with students. A Boy Scout knife left over from a camping trip found in the book bag (without a threat to others) would require a report, but not always expulsion. A student who put a hunting rifle in a pick-up after a morning hunt, then forgot about it, locked the vehicle and walked into a school could be the subject of a police report, but not always expulsion (if there is no threat to others).
“Student discipline runs our schools,” said Pitts, stressing the importance of board action on Section J.
In other action at its regular monthly meeting, the board added $300,000 from district reserves to the Wilder Stadium renovation project. If money allows, Pitts said, the stadium lights will be upgraded.
The $1.88 million project installs new restrooms and a concession area accessible by visitors and home sides, enhances handicapped access, renovates a concessions and restroom area under the home stands, and improves entryways to the stadium.
Superintendent Dr. David O’Shields was authorized to sign a contract with Triangle Construction Co. to begin the work in November. Initially, the work will not disrupt the traffic flow of Clinton Middle School, located next to Wilder Stadium.
The board was told that Clinton High School has won a gold award in the Healthy U.S. School Challenge, the only high school in South Carolina to earn that distinction.
MS Bailey Child Development Center also was awarded gold, and the other four District 56 schools received awards, as well. The USDA (Department of Agriculture) will present banners and money to all District 56 schools.
District 56 is one of just eight districts in the state to have its schools meet these health and wellness promotion standards.
All eligible District 56 schools also have received a designation from physical education teachers for students meeting or exceeding benchmarks for fitness. O’Shields said he received word of these state awards from the Cooper Institute.
Also, the board voted to allow O’Shields to turn down part of his raise.
Based on a positive evaluation, the board renewed O’Shields’ contract with a 2% salary increase. He asked that be reduced to 1%, the same raise given to teachers. The board also voted to hire one person on an induction contract, and allow another person to be released from a contract for the 2018-19 school year.