The Bedford County Board of Education continues to give 'teeth' to its policy regarding attendance and truancy. After a study session early in the year, the board amended the standing 10-year old policy to accumulate late arrivals, or tardies, into absences.
Since the beginning of the school year, five unexcused tardies and/or early checkouts now equal one day of an unexcused absence.
"We have 10 students in one elementary school alone, with over 30 tardies for the past school year," said Terry Looper, supervisor of student services, at that time.
In that school, one student had 69 late arrivals, closely followed by another who racked up 62, and another had 59. In all, those students were late for school for one-third of class days. In the examples above, those students will have 12 or 13 days counted as absent this school year.
Looper said he has been discussing enforcement of the truancy portion of the policy with Juvenile Court Judge Charles Rich and District Attorney Rob Carter. He has also contacted area school districts regarding their policies.
With their recommendations in hand, Looper outlined a plan to "put a little more teeth into this" so that punitive measures against the parents and students of chronic absentees can be better enforced.
When a student in grades 6-12 reaches seven unexcused absences, the parent or guardian will be summoned before the truancy board. When 10 unexcused absences are accumulated, a warrant will be filed on the parent or guardian to be summoned to juvenile court. The parent/guardian could also be fined $50 per day per child.
"Should 12 unexcused absences accumulate, the parent/guardian will be summoned to court again and at this time could face enforcement of the fine and possible jail time," reads the revision.
The board approved the policy changes, with the recommendation that it go into effect Jan. 1, 2013 at the beginning of the next semester.
Tennessee Local Education Agencies (LEAs) are required to adopt a policy regarding Section 504 impartial due process hearings with respect to evaluation, eligibility, and placement of disabled students.
The change results from a complaint filed by the U.S. Department of Education alleging that Tennessee LEAs failed to develop and disseminate a system of procedural safeguards, including hearings.
In an extensive change to current policy, the guidelines for hearing procedures are more clearly defined, primarily outlining the makeup of a due process hearing, and who may be present. Parents may attend hearings and bring legal representation.
The board voted to amend a policy regarding the hiring of substitute teachers. Public Chapter 202 of 2011 allowed school districts the authority to contract with a third-party employer to provide substitute teachers. The policy language, last revised in 2002, now mirrors that of the public policy.
Substitute teachers may be employed and paid directly by the board of education or by a third party public or private employer. Substitute teachers employed by third party entities will be subject to the same unemployment benefit eligibility conditions as substitute teachers employed directly by the board of education. Compensation of substitutes is determined annually by the board.
The board moved to formalize moving regular monthly meetings from the third Thursday to the third Tuesday of each month.
The next meeting will be held Nov. 20 in the Central Office boardroom on Madison Street.