Sunday, April 22, 2012

Time To Look At Our Handbook - What Rules Send The Wrong Message To Students?

Each year we review the Student-Parent Handbook at BHS and make revisions.  For some reason I have been thinking a lot more about this than in past years and wondering what rules that we have send the wrong message to students and their families.

One reason is some of the headlines that catch my attention and remind me that sometimes schools spend too much time coming up with rules and too little thinking about creating an atmosphere that truly cares to the unique needs of each student. Here are some examples:

While we may not have headline-grabbing examples of school rules at BHS, there are a few that have me thinking that they are more about showing power than compassion. I remember a discussion at another school that we had when looking at handbook changes for the following year where a teacher indicated concern that some proposed changes would "take away the hammer." My response focused on the fact that  students (and adults) bring a lot of outside baggage to school each day and that the hammer was the last thing they needed.

The main thing that I would like to discuss is the use of out-of-school suspensions and when it is appropriate to use them. In my opinion the parameters for Out-Of-School suspensions (below in bold italics) need to be changed. Personally, I think we need to take out the wording "but not limited to." I know this tends to be legal terminology to make sure that we don't leave anything out, but when it comes to out-of-school suspensions I think we need to put some limitations in place. Our priority needs to be providing education not taking opportunities away.
Out of School Suspension will be imposed in the cases of, but not limited to, continued infractions of school rules, acts of violence, acts of vandalism, threatening actions or words, theft and the possession and/or sale of alcoholic beverages, weapons, and/or drugs or gambling.  Such acts may be subject to a hearing for exclusion before the Superintendent of Schools.  Students suspended out of school are not permitted to enter the school grounds or participate in any school-sponsored activities for the duration of their suspensions.
So what are the things that need to change in the BHS student handbook? You can check it out below or download it from here into iBooks on your iPad.  I would appreciate any suggestions in the comments section below to assist in our revision which will go forward to the Burlington School Committee in the next month.

2011-2012 Student Parent Handbook

1 comment:

  1. Love that you are asking the questions about revision. Do any students author any parts of the handbook? Do students review? Comment?