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SSISD Administrator Presents Brief Update On Local Policy Recommendations

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Sulphur Springs High School Principal Josh Williams presented Texas Association of School Boards Localized Policy Manual Update 119, a document containing recommendations for 60 new or revised policy recommendations.

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“I sent these policies to every relevant person for review on June 17 as it tends to affect every department and every campus in the district. So within this, there will be 51 legal policies for you to review and nine for you to adopt when you come back next month,” Williams told the school board.

While the district has no choice except to implement the legal policies, they do have some leeway regarding Local policies, provided they meet all requirements. Williams briefed the school board on a few of the Local policy recommendations contained within the approximately 500 page TASB update.

Office Management: Records Management

CPC (Local) policy has to do with records management, specifically a plan on how to manage and protect electronic records. A records management officer must be designated, and has the responsibility of developing procedures for management of electronic records that comply with the district’s records control schedules and meet minimum components required by law.
Justin Cowart, who was appointed June 14 to replace Williams as assistant superintendent over secondary education and officially assumed the role on July 1, 2022, has been designated as official records management officer. The update resource manual includes updated sample procedures on the topic to guide Cowart and the district in establishing those policy requirements.

Professional Development: Required Staff Development

DMA (Local) has to do with required staff development, which Williams said administrators have already been discussing. Essentially, Williams explained, the State Board of Educator Certification has a clearinghouse of best practices and industry recommendations for professional training. The trustees must review the SBEC options and adopt a professional development policy based on the training recommendations of the clearinghouse annually.
“So, what I think is going to happen is, next month when you adopt DMA(Local), with it will come a short plan citing these trainings from the clearinghouse. You will do that once a year. That’s a new requirement,” Williams told the SSISD Board of Trustees during their regular meeting earlier this month.
Williams said SSISD staff have already been receiving the training, this will just include a plan citing the training district staff have or will be receiving over the course of the 2022-2023 school year.

Basic Instructional Program: Required Instruction (All Levels)

EHAA(Local) the board will be asked to consider adopting at their August meeting includes basic instruction on the prevention of child abuse, family violence, dating violence, and sex trafficking, including a board policy on adopting curriculum materials, per Senate Bill 9, coming out of the Second Called Legislative Session. The board will need to adopt a resolution to convene the School Health Advisory Council (SHAC) to hold meetings and make recommendations to the board at a public meeting, as well as board confirmation that the recommendations meet legal requirements before voting on it. The district has already adopted a program and policy. EHAA(Local) requires the trustees to go back over it to make sure that all requirements are being met.

Special Program: Gifted And Talented Students

EHBB(Local) removes the statutory requirement for a district to annually certify to the Commissioner of Education that the district’s Gifted and Talented Program is consistent with the Texas State Plan for the Education of GT students. Williams said SSISD does follow those rules, but said it is being recommended that local policy provision, passed in House Bill 1525 during the last Regular Legislative Session, be deleted from the board policies.

Academic Achievement: Graduation

Policy EIF(Local) gives information on how the school documents proof that a student has completed and submitted either a Federal Financial Aid (FAFSA) form or Texas Application for State Financial Aide (TASFA) form before graduation.
“We’ve been doing that as well,” Williams said. “There are statutory reasons why a student may not do that, but the general rule is they are supposed to do that and we’ve facilitated that through our counseling department. This just gives us a list of six different ways we can keep documentation. We’ve done it and shared that with our High School counselors and that will be done.”

Student Welfare: Freedom From Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation

FFH(Local) is a new local policy, but one which the district already follows, notification of parents if their student is suspected to be the victim or perpetrator of dating violence, Williams noted. The student welfare policy, established in SB 9 during the Second Called Legislative Session, stipulates that the parents of both students be contacted immediately. The policy must also include reporting procedures and guidelines for students who are victims of dating violence and include a clear statement that dating violence is not tolerated at school.
No revisions are recommended for the district’s current policy provisions, including reporting procedures and a statement of nondiscrimination that specifically prohibits dating violence.
Additional revisions are recommended, however, to clarify the definition of prohibited conduct and the district’s response to such conduct.

Additional Local Policy Recommendations

Additional Local policies identified in the update included:

  • EHB, which would require SSISD to provide regular training opportunities for teachers of students with dyslexia;
  • EHBAA, has to do with special education identification, evaluation and eligibility. It’s recommended that a student who is transitioning from early childhood intervention to have an individualized education program developed and implemented by the child’s third birthday to meet Texas Education Agency requirements for ongoing TEA Special education cyclical monitoring reviews. This policy, the update notes, will need to be adopted by the school board and linked to the Legal Framework by the Aug. 31, 2022 deadline.
  • FFBA has to do with crisis intervention and trauma informed care. Senate Bill 1267, established in the Regular Legislative session, requires training in trauma-informed care to be provided in accordance with the board’s professional development policy. At training, a reference has been added to the district’s professional development plan.
  • SB 1267 also repealed the requirement for a district to annually report to TEA the number of employees who participated in trauma-informed care training. TASB and the administrators recommend deleting that local policy provision from FFBA(Local).

All policies approved by SSISD Board of Trustees are then updated and can be found online on the district’s website, www.ssisd.net. Select “About SSISD,” then “SSISD Board of Trustees” and finally, select the “School Board Policies.” Once on the policies page, choose the search option that best fits your needs.

Author: Faith Huffman

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