Weatherford ISD board of trustees also discussed the Student Code of Conduct during their meeting on Monday.
WISD Executive Director of Student Services Lynn Pool gave a presentation about what the code of conduct includes and possible changes to the code.
The proposed changes to the code include defining a range of consequences for harassment and lengthen the amount of time in Disciplinary Alternative Education Program placement for offenses regarding fighting, felonies on school properties and persistent misbehavior, according to Pool’s presentation. The proposed changes would also specify different punishments for possession of a vape or vape paraphernalia by recommending long term in-school suspension for the first offense and 30 days in DAEP for the second offense.
Furthermore, proposed changes to the code would add detail under “General Conduct Violations — Safety Transgressions,” which instructs students to not damage safety equipment, like safes, or inhibit WISD’s safety protocols.
In Pool’s presentation, more specific examples under “Mistreatment of Others” are also proposed to include the following language: “Students shall not: Engage in or communicate any signs of racial, cultural or ethnic intolerance toward another person, including a district student, employee, board member or volunteer, whether verbal, written, drawn or hand constructed.”
“We had community members come to us and say, ‘hey, we think we need more specificity in what constitutes harassment, whether that’s harassment based on racial situations or cultural situations, gender-specific, etcetera. Can we make it a little bit more specific so kids and families understand when something is harassment?’” Pool said.
The board is expected to approve the Student Code of Conduct in August.
Pool explained how Texas Education Code Chapter 37 sets the foundation for disciplinary actions within the district. The law requires that when considering consequences including DAEP placement, suspension and expulsion, districts consider if a student was acting in self-defense, intent or lack-of intent, a student’s disciplinary history and if the student has a disability that impairs their ability to know the wrongfulness of their conduct.
Student suspension cannot last more than three days, and a student below third grade cannot be suspended unless their offense is related to drugs, assault or weapons, according to Pool’s presentation.
The district is required to place students who commit felony assault offenses in DAEP even if the offense didn’t happen at school, Pool said.
Expellable offenses include conduct which warrants a felony charge. Deciding on student expulsion requires a formal committee hearing, according to the presentation. The committee would decide whether to expel a student to DAEP or to the street.
“Expelling to the street is rare,” Pool said. “We try not to do that because then they are not getting an education.”
Pool said moving forward communication expectations need to be defined for communicating with parents and staff, and protocol for communicating with Pool. Professional development for principals and assistant principals needs to increase to help them understand the processes and ensure consequences are consistent.
Trustees asked questions about and discussed investigations, the roles of resource officers and suspension.
Trustee Tiffany Fowler said she has heard that discipline is sometimes inconsistent and asked what is considered during the review process for student discipline.
Pool said in regard to her question that there is a review completed near the middle of a student’s time in DAEP and early release is considered. While a student is in DAEP, they can’t be on school property or participate in school events.
Board Secretary Greg Shaw said punishments should be modified to fit the circumstances.
“I don’t like zero tolerance,” Shaw said. “Sometimes when we get that zero tolerance, we take away the person that’s in charge of discipline the ability to make decisions based upon past performance.”
Pool said administrators do have flexibility in discipline based on scenarios.
The next WISD board meeting is on July 15.