WSESU Policy and Amendment Committee Agenda and Minutes

Policy and Amendment Committee
January 3, 2023 at 2:30pm
in the WSESU Central Office Conference Room

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I Approval of Minutes from 12/12/22
II Policies for full Board consideration
F38 Prevention of Sexual Harassment as Prohibited by Title IX
(1st reading as of 12/13/22)
F10 – Reporting Suspected Child Abuse or Neglect
(2nd Reading as of 1/10/23)

III Conclude edits to move policies to 2nd reading
F21 – Policy on the use of Restraint and Seclusion
F35 – School Animal Policy
IV. Continue Review
H7 Leadership Councils
LSP1 Student Dress Code
V. New Business
G8 Local Action Plan
(Consider D1, D2 Professional Development, and G1 Curriculum Development and
Coordination as working components of G8)
D1 Personnel-Recruitment, Selection, Appointment, and Background Checks
(Regarding including students in the hiring process)
Meeting to conclude at 4:30.


Note: These proposed minutes should be considered preliminary until they are approved by the
committee at a future meeting.

Policy & Amendment Committee Members Present: Chair Deborah Stanford (DS), Liz Adams (LA), Tim Maciel (TM).
Policy & Amendment Committee Members Absent: Anne Beekman
WSESU/SD Staff and Administrators Present: Mark Speno, Wendy M. Levy, Barb Nowakowski, Paul Smith, Nancy Wiese, Cassie Damkoehler, Keith Lyman, Tate Erickson
Media Present: none
Others Present: Shaun Murphy, Jaime Contois, Robin Morgan, David Schoales
Chair DS called the meeting to order at 2:33pm.
DS gave the “hybrid meeting” statement.
The minutes were approved by unanimous consent of DS, TM, and LA.
The Committee scheduled their next meeting: Tuesday, January 3, 2023, from 2:30-4:30pm. Board Recorder Wendy M. Levy indicated she will not have returned from her holiday travels to attend the meeting, and will review it later that week to draft the minutes.
F38 – Prevention of Sexual Harassment as Prohibited by Title IX
DS announced she will present F38 to the WSESD Board at their December 13 meeting.
F35 – School Animal Policy

DS shared a document, “Animal School Policy F35.” A discussion ensued on this proposed policy.
Highlights included:
In all sections where it appears, delete the wording about “risk and disease.”
Correct a typo.
Change gender pronouns to make them inclusive.
Change mentions of “parents” to read, “parents and guardians.”
Salmonella and other parasites. The Committee agreed to delete the section that mentions salmonella.

Whether to amend the prohibition on birds flying free in a classroom to authorize licensed handlers to allow birds to fly free in classrooms, and other areas in schools, as part of an educational presentation. Superintendent Mark Speno noted there are programs in schools where licensed handlers allow birds to fly free in classrooms and other areas. The Committee agreed to include language allowing this.
The goals of this policy.
Whether this policy should be deleted and replaced with a statement referencing Vermont Department of Health guidance. Or, if the policy should remain, and should be prefaced by a statement, and what it should say. Jaime Contois and WSESD Board Member Shaun Murphy will compose their drafts of that opening statement and submit them to Executive Secretary Barb Nowakowski.

This policy is on hold.

F21 – Policy on the use of Restraint and Seclusion

A discussion ensued on this proposed policy. Highlights included:

LA indicated she spoke with Dan French of the Vermont Agency of Education (AoE), and the Board’s attorney, Pietro Lynn, about this policy. LA reported they said the WSESD policy could be stricter than the AoE’s policy, but the Board / Committee should seek comment from those affected and professionals in the District.
The District’s use of seclusion (the District does not use seclusion), and the existing guidelines and protocols which emphasize de-escalation. Should there be a values statement in this policy?
The hypothetical scenario of a student’s IEP including seclusion. What then? How to include this in the policy?
When a child secludes themselves (e.g. by locking themselves into a single-person bathroom) and whether this is relevant to the policy.
The relationship, and difference, between policy and culture, and how establishing clear policies defines best-practices, even when the personnel changes.
Why this policy is needed, why it is written the way it is, and the process for changing it.
Tate Erickson and Ms. Nowakowski will draft a statement to include in the beginning of the policy.
The Committee will revisit this policy, and the statement, at the January 3, 2023 meeting.
This policy is on hold.

F10 Reporting Suspected Child Abuse or Neglect

A discussion ensued on this proposed policy. Highlights included:

A recommendation to strengthen the policy.
Windham Regional Career Center Director Nancy Wiese raised the issue of staff being mandated reporters, and how this policy could affect this.
How reporting is conducted, to whom (the Department of Children and Families [DCF], the school’s principal, the Superintendent of Schools), and existing documents — currently located at Brattleboro Union High School — that guide the steps for reporting. The documents came from DCF training.
The need for a clear policy to avoid having incidents “swept under the rug,” which happened in the past, and the District is now dealing with that aftermath.
The chain-of-command for reporting to DCF. One suggestion: the designated employee / building Principal, then the Superintendent.

The Committee (minus AB who was absent) unanimously agreed on edits, including LA’s amendments to the changes in order for reporting.

DS reported this policy now goes to a second reading at the Board meeting, but because there is not enough time to properly warn it for the December 13 meeting, it will go to the first January Board meeting.
DS called for a break at 3:50pm.
DS called the meeting back into order at 3:56pm.


NOTE: H7 Leadership Councils Discussion of H7 Leadership Councils is on hold until January 3, 2023 with respect to the administrators who are in attendance to discuss LSP1 Student Dress Code.

LSP1 Student Dress Code

A discussion ensued on this proposed policy. Highlights included:

Some background on why this policy is being reviewed: it’s applied inconsistently and unfairly, and this information comes from the students.
Mr. Speno reported he was recently at a VSA workshop, and the presenter shared an “equity lens” tool template for addressing the student dress code, amongst other policies. Mr. Speno shared this document (the template) with the Committee. A discussion ensued on this document.
The current dress code policy, what’s included and is not included in the student handbook, and that while this policy applies to students at BAMS and BUHS, should it not also apply to students in the entire District?
The history of the dress code policy, which originated with a local school, and was then carried over into the merged District.
The lack of gender-neutrality in the current policy.
WSESD Board Member Robin Morgan joined the meeting.
The discussion continued. Highlights included:
The proposed policy Ms. Morgan submitted to the Committee, which she adapted from a school policy used in Evanston, Illinois.
Should the Committee delete the entire current policy and begin anew?
The importance of having clarity, consistency, and equity in the dress code policies for all schools in the District. This will help principals train their staff.
Clear and consistent enforcement of the policies.
The particulars of the policy.
BUHS Interim Principal Cassie Damkoehler said she did not want the dress code to prevent a student from accessing their education. She noted it’s not usually other students who are bothered by a fellow-student’s attire; it’s usually the adults in the building. A dress code, she said, should be about education.
Ms. Wiese shared her students’ research and findings on dress codes.
TM recommended reviewing and adapting Evanston’s policy, then continuing to review this policy at the next meeting on January 3, 2023. The Committee unanimously agreed to do this.


DS adjourned the meeting at 4:31pm.
Documents presented:
“Animal School Policy F35.”
A VSA “equity lens” tool template for addressing the student dress code and other policies.
Submitted by Wendy M. Levy from minutes taken by Wendy M. Levy
This represents my understanding of the above dated meeting. If you have any changes, please submit
them at the next committee meeting.

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