Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Breathalyzer and bullying policies added to Duneland handbooks

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

Pink hair is allowed at Duneland Schools, unless it attracts too much attention and creates a disruption in the classroom.

“Inappropriate” hair dyes are one of a few items banned in the newest revisions of the Duneland Student Handbooks for elementary, intermediate/middle and high schools.

The Duneland School Board heard the new policies at its meeting Monday where they unanimously approved changes and conceptual language.

Birthday treats such as cakes are being advised against in elementary schools because of nutrition and allergy concerns, as advised by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition program.

Jackson Elementary Principal Linda Rugg said the schools are recommending non-food items be brought in instead, like stickers and pencils, or “safe treats” if it is a food.

In addition, Rugg said there will be adjustments to the attendance policy for the elementary schools. A district attendance officer will notify parents of students who have up to five unexcused absences during a semester and inspect cases where there are more than 10 absences.

Vision screenings will now be given to 5th grade students, Rugg added.

The handbook will also include local criteria for students to be accepted into the High Ability educational programs and how it progresses from grade to grade.

Chesterton Middle School Principal Mike Megyesi said the handbook for the middle school will include the state’s rules for bullying and what is identified as harassing, intimidating or ridiculing behavior.

The middle/intermediate schools are also updating its attendance policies. Letters will go to parents of students who have missed a number of days to open the lines of communication.

There will be a change in the student sign out policy stating students can only go home with an adult who is designated on the student’s personal file. He or she must have proper ID.

The middle school will also have a social media policy.

CHS Principal Jeff Van Drie said the high school will include the breathalyzer policy in its handbook, requiring it for entry into the CHS prom, homecoming, winter dance and senior banquet.

The policy was piloted last year and Van Drie stated “we’ve had a lot of success with it.” Last weekend’s prom saw 580 kids tested before entering the dance and the process still moved quickly.

If a attendee tested positive for alcohol, they would step into a private area where a law enforcement officer would administer another test.

“In the five times we’ve had (the breathalyzers), we haven’t had to do that. So far so good,” Van Drie said.

Duneland Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Jim Goetz, who was CHS principal at the time the program was piloted, said a few students had thanked the administration for taking pre-cautions.

School Board Vice-President Kristin Kroeger said she would suggest that rules of reasonable suspicion apply during the events in case alcohol is snuck in, so a student under suspicion could be breathalyzed.

CHS assistant principal Josh Huwig said the handbook for the high school will also require that visitors show a photo ID before entering the building, updating the language in the section prohibiting the use of steroids and other performance enhancing drugs in sports, and a change to the detention policy.

Students with three tardies will face an hour of detention. If the student misses detention up to three times, he or she will serve an in-school suspension.

Huwig said the CHS handbook will also include the state’s guidelines on bullying and said he would consider Kroeger’s suggestion to expand the social media policy to all extracurricular activities.

The handbook will continue to be used as a hall pass, he said answering an inquiry from School Board President Ralph Ayres.

The discussion at times turned to how the administration will get the handbooks into the hands of parents, given that student registration can be done online by the parent without having to travel to the school.

“I don’t know how they are going to advise what’s in the handbook if (the parents) don’t receive it,” said board member John Marshall.

Rugg said there are still many reasons parents will visit the school such as to tour the classrooms, meet teachers and sign up for classrooms.

“We do try to get them to come in as much as possible,” Rugg said.

Handbooks are distributed at high school registration but there is no requirement that parent sign for it, Assistant Superintendent Monte Moffett said.

Kroeger suggested a .pdf file of the handbook be available with online registration. Moffett said the board could approve that if it so desires but an electronic format has not yet been made, so parents will be encouraged to speak with the administrators in person.

RtI presentation

Also at the meeting, Rugg gave the board a presentation on the Response to Intervention (RtI) program that was piloted at Jackson Elementary in 2007 before it was eventually mandated a year later.

All students are assessed in the program and categorized into three tiers. Tier 1 includes the top 80 percent of highest performing students, Tier 2 the next 15 percent and Tier 3 includes the bottom five percent.

Students are evaluated in Reading, Math and Behavior.

Tier 2 students meet with instructors in the RtI room for two or three days a week while Tier 3 students meet every day.

Students in Tier 3 are monitored to see if they require special education.

The school hosts an information meeting once a year for parents who are interested in finding out more about the program.

 

 

Posted 5/6/2014