Legislation passed by the Indiana General Assembly this year requires the Clay Community School Corp. to take a look at several policies involving students and make necessary changes to meet the new standards.
"We were pretty much on track with these policy changes in a lot of areas," Superintendent William Schad said at Thursday evening's school board meeting.
Minor Policy Changes
The new laws required some minor changes in the policies concerning the display of the United States flag, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and providing for a moment of silence.
The new policies require that a United States flag be on display in each classroom, that the opportunity for students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance be made available during the school day along with a moment of silence that allows each student theopportunity for self reflection or prayer.
"I don't think I know of a classroom without a flag in it at our schools," Schad said.
The legislation also includes provisions for those students who wish not to participate for what ever reason to be able to leave the room while these activities are taking place.
Major Changes in Truant and Drop Out Policies
Providing language for stronger punishment concerning truancy, the legislation also created a procedure policy for students wanting to drop out. Some of the changes are harsh, but the Indiana General Assembly provided language in the new legislature that allows school boards across the state protection against problems arising from the mandatory policy changes.
"The good thing about this legislation is that the Indiana Attorney General will automatically defend any civil rights cases that arise out of the board utilizing these policies," Schad said.
In an effort to curb unwanted behavior by students, the General Assembly has enacted strong punishments to get both the students and parents attention.
One of these changes occurs in the truant policy.
A "habitual truant" is a student who has 11 or more days of unexcused absences in one school year.
According to Indiana Code 20-33-2-11, those students who are at least 13-years old, but less than 15-years old, and are determined to be a habitual truant according to the school board policy cannot be issued an operator's license or a learner's permit until the age of 18, or until the student's attendance record has shown improvement as determined by a scheduled review of their records.
For those who want to drop out of school for whatever reason, a mandatory exit interview with the principal, parents and the student must be scheduled to discuss the reasons and other options before this action can be taken. If a student does not show up for the interview and or just quits school, the principal will contact the proper authorities to have their driver's license and or work permit revoked.
Medication Policy Change
Legislation reverted back to the previous language of an earlier policy concerning the administration of medication by schools. Leftover medication properly supplied to the school for the student's usage will now be able to be returned home instead of being discarded as the policy has stated the last few years.
"This is a policy that has come full circle and once again states what it originally did before changes a few years ago," Schad said.
By upgrading these policies before the new 2005/06 school year, the corporation is now in compliance with the new legislature. Failure to comply would have caused problems with application for the state funding for the school year.