Windham Southeast School District (WSESD) Policy and Amendment Committee Meeting Minutes – April 10, 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, April 10, 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), Shannon Kelly (SK), Aidy Holding (AH), Paul Smith (PS)
Guests: Sarah Kaltenbaugh (6th grade teacher Academy School), Luca Mnookin
(student), Elsa Anders (student), Liz Adams (via zoom)

Call to Order

DS convened the meeting at 2:25 pm and read the hybrid statement.

I. Approval of Minutes and confirmation of next meeting date

The minutes of 3/27/24 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:

No meeting April 24 due to school break
May 8
May 22

II. Special presentation on all-gender bathrooms

• Two 6th grade students from Academy School, Luca Mnookin and Elsa Anders, presented their research project looking at the lack of access to gender-neutral bathrooms at school. Academy School has only one gender-neutral bathroom that is accessible to anyone, and it is in the upper-grade wing, so not available to K-2 students. Some—but not all—classrooms have their own gender-neutral bathroom. The students presented an assessment of why it matters, including transgender students’ fear of harassment in gendered bathrooms. Their research involved surveys at Academy School and Putney Central School, and with their results, they advocated for private, all-gender bathrooms throughout the district.
• A discussion ensued about designs for all-gender bathrooms and changes that have already been implemented at Putney Central School and Dummerston.
• The committee expressed commitment to create change, while acknowledging that change can be slow. The committee will be working out a gender freedom policy that is appropriate to the entire district—and gender freedom includes being able to access a bathroom with dignity, without having to ask.
• No further updates on Gender Freedom in Schools / F34. On hold until next meeting.

III. Policies

F26 Participation of Home Study Students in School Programs and Activities

• Committee reviewed the policy and procedures document, as reorganized by PS.
• PS noted the major clarification in #1 under General Guidelines: Students in home study programs are not entitled to special education services in the school. The school may provide services, at their discretion, through a service plan (not an IEP).
• F26 will go for a 1st reading at the 4/30/24 Board meeting.

E14 Environmental Awareness and Responsibility

• This policy was on hold from the last meeting so it could go to the BHSU science teachers and Frank Rucker. MS gave it to Hannah but has not heard back.
• TM noted that this policy, like many others, requires an annual report to the Board. He suggested that MS may want to consider combining all those annual reports into one big report. DS noted that the report would not have to be oral, as long as it was made public.
• LA raised the concern that E14 doesn’t address food service, an important issue in environmental responsibility. A discussion ensued.
o Option A: Consider adding food to the policy, knowing that the issue would generate a lot of comment.
o Option B: Add a sentence acknowledging that the policy doesn’t address the important issue of food consumption and food waste, and that it needs to be addressed by the community.
o Option C: Leave out the issue of food altogether.
o MS supported the policy as written. DS acknowledged that food is a part
of environmental awareness, but felt that it gets into a really broad issue that the district may need to handle in a different way.

• E14 will remain on hold.

D4 Educator Supervision and Evaluation: Probationary Teachers

• D4 was on hold from the last meeting, awaiting union review. MS has a meeting with union representatives on Monday.
• A short discussion took place regarding how much the Board needs to know about the results of teacher evaluations.
• TM asked if student evaluations of a class can be added to the list of staff evaluation strategies. MS noted that there would be major pushback from union leadership. Teachers are against it.
• The following section under Probationary Teachers elicited significant discussion:

“When the required evaluations have been carried out, the standard for non- renewal of a probationary teacher’s contract is any reason not prohibited by law, and the decision of the School Board is final in the absence of contrary provisions in the teacher’s contract. If the probationary teacher has not received the minimum number of required written performance evaluations per year of probationary service, the standard for non-renewal of contract is just and sufficient cause.”

o The committee tried to parse what this paragraph was actually saying and attempted to re-write it in clearer – but still accurate – language. It was difficult.
o The paragraph is essentially saying that if the evaluations have been performed properly, a teacher can be dismissed for any lawful reason. If the evaluations have not been carried out, non-renewal can only be for just cause. There was concern on whether “just cause” was an appropriate term here, since it would imply a burden of proof for wrong doing, whereas in the probationary situation, the teacher simply may not be a good fit. The word “properly” will be removed.
o The second/final paragraph under Probationary Teachers will be moved up and integrated into the first paragraph.
o MH will include the old and new versions of the paragraph in the next draft to be reviewed on 5/8.

• D4 is on hold until the next meeting.

F1 Student Conduct and Discipline

• MS suggested a review of F1 with MK and a principal representative present.
• TM asked if any student feedback had been gathered. MS did not know if principals had shared it with student leadership.
• TM noted that restorative practice a key part of this policy and asked if it has been vetted by the restorative justice person at the high school.
• F1 is on hold and will be put at the top of the agenda for the May 8 meeting.

Meeting adjourned at 3:58 pm.

Notes taken by Anna Monders (recorder)
Submitted by Anne Beekman (vice chair)

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