WSESD Policy and Amendment Committee Meeting Agenda and Minutes

Policy and Amendment Committee
February 6, 2023 at 2:30pm
in the District Office

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I Approval of Minutes from 1/23/23
Confirm date for next meeting

II Update
F21 – Policy on the use of Restraint and Seclusion re-adopted as of 1/24/23

III Conclude edits

F10 – Reporting Suspected Child Abuse or Neglect (2nd Reading 1/10/23)
F35 – School Animal Policy (1st Reading 11/22/22)

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)

VI Construct Agenda for next meeting

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), Anne Beekman (AB), Tim Maciel (TM).
Policy & Amendment Committee Members Absent: none
WSESU/SD Staff and Administrators Present: Cassie Damkoehler, Wendy M. Levy, Mikaela Simms, Paul Smith.
Media Present: none
Others Present: Jaime Contois

Chair DS called the meeting to order at 2:39pm.
DS read the “hybrid meeting” statement.

The minutes were approved by consent of DS, TM, and LA. AB did not vote. The next meeting is on 2/6/23 from 2:30-4:30pm.

DS announced that the day of the week this committee meets must change because Superintendent Mark Speno cannot attend on Tuesdays. DS asked all committee members, and Paul Smith and Jaime Contois, if they could meet on Mondays. All said yes.

Wendy M. Levy was recognized by DS. Ms. Levy said she could not meet on Mondays and she would try to draft minutes by watching the meeting’s recording.

F38 Prevention of Sexual Harassment as Prohibited by Title IX — (Readopted 1/10/23)Policy for full Board Re-adoption on 1/24/23:
DS announced this policy was readopted by the full WSESD Board on 1/10/23. It is complete.

F21 Policy on the Use of Restraint and Seclusion — (2nd Reading 1/10/23)
DS announced the second reading of this policy occurred at the 1/10/23 Board meeting. It is scheduled for readoption on 1/24/23.


F35 School Animal Policy — (1st Reading 11/22/22)

A discussion ensued on this policy. Highlights included:
TM said this policy is fine the way it is.
LA voiced her concerns about ensuring the policy reflects the necessity for therapy dogs to be trained, and the differences between certain types of training certification.
Training certification, other districts’ policies on training certification, federal laws for therapy animals, and administrators’ discretion regarding therapy animals.
The history of therapy animals at the District’s schools.
A review of Ms. Contois’s edits to this policy, including allowing school principals to have discretion regarding approving the presence of therapy animals on campus; and removing the language on dissection of animals and students’ protection during this activity because it is irrelevant to this policy.

DS announced this policy will go for its second reading on 2/14/23. LA, TM, AB, and DS approved.

F10 Reporting Suspected Child Abuse or Neglect — (2nd Reading 1/10/23)
DS led a review of this policy, and noted much of the discussion would center on page 2 of the policy, specifically the paragraph regarding implementation. DS noted she received many comments from school staff and community members on this proposed policy.
A discussion ensued on this proposed policy. Highlights included:

LA voiced her concern about how the District handles complaints and accusations about suspected child sexual abuse, and whether it is acceptable to only have principals and the superintendent receive these reports. LA wants three different people in the school system to know about these complaints, and the third person must be someone other than a principal or the superintendent. The reason is that the accused might be the principal or superintendent.
LA’s proposed change is that the complaint or accusation go directly and immediately to the Vermont Department of Children and Families (DCF), the superintendent, and the chairperson of the school board.
TM asked which school officials DCF notifies. BUHS Principal Cassie Damkoehler said recent law indicates the principal — or whoever made the report — will get a letter from DCF.
LA proposed a change: to retain the case number in the file in the superintendent’s office. DS agreed. Ms. Damkoehler assured LA that this is already done, and it is called an “intake number.” Staff uses this number if they submit any additional information to DCF about a case.
DS noted School Board Counsel Pietro Lynn recommended against putting any disciplinary action in the policy. TM agreed.
LA said it is necessary to discuss with the union the proposal to never hire anyone who does not understand what “sexual assault” is.
Whether or not to include disciplinary actions for staff in this policy.
Whether “credibility” should be included in the section of this policy that addresses mandated reporters, and who determines “credibility.” LA expressed her concern that a situation related to this happened recently and the current policy was inadequate at addressing it.
Mikaela Simms asked if the policy could include a clause to protect reporters against retaliation. LA agreed and said she would write a draft of this for the policy.
DS recommended setting aside the policy for the time being. She will ask Executive Secretary Barb Nowakowski to draft a revised copy with the edits included.

This policy is on hold pending the edits.


LSP1 Student Dress Code
DS noted she received many emails from the community about this policy, and completing the work necessary to draft and approve this policy will require more community involvement.

Ms. Damkoehler led a discussion on students wearing hoods. She said she received many comments about this subject. She also noted reasons why students may need to wear hoods, and that prohibiting this may present challenges for students. She recommended making this policy student-centered to support students’ learning, and not about “what adults want.”

A discussion ensued on “visible ears,” students using earphones, and students wearing hats and hoods. Ms. Simms asked if one policy should exist for students in grades Kindergarten through 12. Paul Smith recommended having one policy about dress code that supports equity and a lack of discrimination, and then let each school work out the details. TM agreed. LA dissented, and noted the lack of equity in how students are disciplined about their dress, which points to a need for consistency. A discussion ensued.

A discussion ensued on whether it is clear to the community, including students, that this policy is up for review and the Policy & Amendment Committee wants their comments. Ms. Contois recommended a solid work plan, a timeline, and a checklist of the communities from which the committee would like comments. DS agreed. TM dissented, and noted there are mechanisms already in place for outreach. A discussion ensued on outreach.

DS said this policy is not ready to present, and the committee will revisit it at the next meeting.

H7 Leadership Councils
Ms. Contois remarked on the comments and edits submitted by Ruby McAdoo. Ms. Contois disagreed with Ms. McAdoo’s recommendation to remove the “five-day rule” for submitting minutes because it would violate Open Meeting Law.

LA voiced her concern about changing items in this policy because it could violate Article 15. DS assured LA that Ms. Nowakowski has worded this policy carefully to adhere to Article 15.

TM said he wants the policy to include mention of the Leadership Councils’ expectations of Board members. Ms. Contois added the policy should also include clarification on the relationship and mechanism between the Leadership Councils and the Board.

DS said she will email everyone the old policy and Ms. McAdoo’s edits. She postponed further discussion until everyone has these documents.

DS said the next meeting’s agenda will include:



There was no discussion or objections.

The meeting was adjourned at 4:24pm.
Documents presented:

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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