Windham Southeast School District (WSESD) Policy and Amendment Committee Meeting Minutes Feb 28, 2024

Note: These minutes should be considered preliminary until they are approved at the next
Policy and Amendment Committee meeting.
Windham Southeast School District (WSESD) Policy and Amendment Committee
Wednesday, February 28, 2024
Regular meeting 2:00 pm
Hybrid meeting: WSESU Central Office, 53 Green St., Brattleboro, VT and
Remotely via Zoom
Policy and Amendment Committee members present: Deborah Stanford (DS, Chair), Tim
Maciel (TM), Anne Beekman (AB, via Zoom)
WSESD/U Staff and Administrators present: Superintendent Mark Speno (MS), Mo Hart (MH),
Paul Smith (PS), Keith Lyman (KL, via Zoom), Shannon Kelly (SK), Aidy Holding (AH),
Guests attending: Liz Adams (LA, via Zoom)

Call to Order

Chair DS convened the meeting at 2:03 pm and read the hybrid statement.

I. Approval of Minutes and confirmation of next meeting date

The minutes of 2/14/24 meeting approved by assent.

The Policy and Amendment Committee meets on second and fourth Wednesdays, from 2-4 pm at the WSESU Central Office and on Zoom. The next meetings are scheduled for:
March 13, 2024
March 27, 2024

II. Updates from the Board

● The following policy will be presented for re-adoption on 3/12/24 (not 2/29):
o G8 Continuous Improvement Plan

● The following policies will be presented for a first reading on 2/29/24:
o G1 Curriculum Development and Coordination
o F22 Student Assessment
o H2 Parental Involvement Policy

▪ TM suggested that H2 reference the AOE’s Family Engagement Self-Assessment.

▪ The following sentence was added to number 5 in the policy: “Also, there are a variety of resources available at the Agency of Education website that the Board recommends be used to assess family engagement, e.g. Family Engagement Self-Assessment.”

The updated policy will go for a first reading.

III. Policies

E6 Emergency Closings

● Policy was reviewed and minor edits made, including:
o Under Implementation, first paragraph: bomb threats safety threats.
o Under Implementation, first paragraph: health problems health emergencies.
o Under Implementation, second paragraph: Board chair Board Chair.
o Last sentence: will may.

● E6 will be presented for a first reading at the 3/12/24 Board meeting.

E7 Safety and Security of School Facilities

● Policy was reviewed and discussed, and no further edits were made.

● E7 will be presented for a first reading at the 3/12/24 Board meeting.

E8 Tobacco/Nicotine Prohibition

● VSBA edits to the policy were reviewed and discussed.

● Under definition of tobacco substitutes, add the following to #5: “which include Juul and other vape products.”

● E8 will be presented for a first reading at the 3/12/24 Board meeting.

F12 Transportation

● Discussion took place regarding whether F12 should be an SU rather than SD policy.
The line “File the policy in the principal’s office in each school in the district” was seen
as being on the SD level. F12 will be retained as an SD policy.

● VSBA edits to the policy were reviewed and accepted.

● With the VSBA edits in place, F12 will be presented for a first reading at the 3/12/24 Board meeting.

G14 Animal Dissection

● G14 was approved on 7/20/22. The new edits from the VSBA reorganize the policy, taking material out of the introduction and placing it in an Administrative Responsibilities section.

● VSBA edits to the policy were reviewed and accepted.

● Minor edits to punctuation and word choice (add “caregivers”) were suggested.

● With the edits in place, G14 will be presented for a first reading at the 3/12/24
Board meeting.

G15 Title 1 Comparability Policy

● VSBA edits to the policy were reviewed and accepted with the following changes:
o Under Administrative Responsibilities, #2: biennially annually.
o Remove 16 V.S.A. §144 from the legal references, as it has been repealed.

● G15 will be presented for a first reading at the 3/12/24 Board meeting.

F26 Participation of Home Study Students in School Programs and Activities

● VSBA edits have struck out almost everything from the policy. A note from Barb suggests that some of the strike outs be kept in an addendum. A discussion ensued regarding whether to accept or reject the VSBA edits and whether to create an addendum to the policy for procedures.
o Procedures are more flexible than policy and can be modified without going through the three readings for re-adoption.
o There needs to be procedures in place regarding homeschool students for circumstances such as if a homeschool student wants to participate on a sports team and the school says no.

● PS will work on reorganizing F26, extracting procedures into a separate document.

● F26 is on hold.

F1 Student Conduct
● KL: no further updates since last meeting.

● F1 will remain on hold, awaiting update from MS on student engagement.

Gender Freedom in Schools

● Began read-through of the proposed Gender Freedom in Schools policy, which SK and AH have incorporated into existing F34 (Transgender and Gender Creative Students Policy). Discussion ensued.

● The definitions section has been removed.
o Policies don’t define other identities in this manner. It comes off as dehumanizing. It’s not the point of a policy to teach people about a topic. That’s part of professional development.
o But: It is the norm for policies to provide background information.
o The definitions may be in place to prevent bad actors from using “gender expansive” as cover for something else that is not a protected category.

● TM: The big question is: Why this policy? If this goes to a first reading, that question is going to be asked of the Board. We need a strong response, and we don’t have one yet.

o There is a pattern of harm – but that can be said of other identities.
o Discussion about intersectionality. Do we take the high road in terms of a philosophical statement on intersectionality?
▪ On a pragmatic level, we wouldn’t be talking about reconstructing bathrooms in a racial justice policy.
o From a legal standpoint, this policy is connected to sex discrimination under Title IX. What is laid out in the policy is in line with legal statute.
o TM would like to check with VSBA if other districts have a similar policy and if they have a clear “why.”

● “Students will not be required to obtain a court ordered name and/or gender change or to change their pupil personnel records as a prerequisite to being addressed by the name and pronouns that corresponds to their gender identity.”
o In other words: Name and pronouns are under the control of the student, not the family — a student can make that change without the permission of the family. Title IX referenced in footnote.
o Teachers have this question: Am I allowed to call students this name without parent permission? This can be part of PD.
o Raises a lot of issues with regards to rights of the adult.

● SK will rewrite the following sentence for clarity: “Where a student’s record(s) may not be changed absent court order due to state and federal law, efforts will be taken to maintain those records in strictest confidentiality in order to preserve the student’s…”
o Reading ended with this sentence, bottom of page 3.

● Gender Freedom in Schools / F34 on hold until next meeting.

Agenda for 3/13 to include:
● Updates on:
o F1 (Student Conduct and Discipline)
o G16 (Class Size Policy)
o G13 (Acceptable Use of Electronic Resources & the Internet)
o F4 (Searches, Seizures, and Interrogation of Students by School Personnel)
o F5 (Searches, Seizures, and Interrogation of Students by Law Enforcement Personnel or Other Non-School Personnel)
● Gender Freedom in Schools / F34
● F26

Meeting concluded at 4:03 pm.

Notes taken by Anna Monders (recorder)

Submitted by Tim Maciel (vice chair)

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