Derry School Board Takes Action on Policy Changes

The Derry School Board held a first reading on one policy, approved two policies in a second reading, and sent a fourth back to the conference table for tweaking.
Superintendent Laura Nelson presented the policies at the board’s Tuesday, Nov. 26 meeting.
The first reading was on Policy JLCCB, student allergies, with an addendum on administrative procedures for students with allergies.

The policy reads in part, “While the Derry School District cannot provide a totally allergen-free environment, the District will take reasonable steps to work with staff, students and their parents/guardians to minimize the risks of severe allergic reactions at school.”
The policy has been revised by the Policy Committee and reviewed by the Nurse Team Leaders, Cathy Thomopoulos and Sue Linehan, Nelson said.
Policy Committee member Dan McKenna said the revised policy has a “procedure piece,” allowing for older students to take more responsibility for their allergies.
For example, the policy states that students in Grades Kindergarten-2 “will not be expected to consistently use appropriate judgment with regard to their health or food choices, or to communicate their needs to the school staff.” Students in Grades 3-5 will be expected to assume more responsibility, including frequent hand washing, appropriate food choices and notifying staff if they have concerns about a food they have eaten or possible allergic symptoms.  Students in Grades 6-8 will be expected to “make appropriate food choices and take responsibilities for managing their allergies at school with any necessary supports identified in their Allergy Action Plan.”
“We worked with the nurses to make sure it was age-appropriate and developmentally-appropriate,” Nelson said.
The policy on Educational Philosophy, AD, will be looked at more closely after members expressed concern about language. The first line reads, “The Board believes that education should be shaped by purposes rather than by forces.”
Chairman Brenda Willis objected to the word “forces.”
Nelson said a better term might be “current trends,” and observed that this policy was last updated in October 1980.
Willis also expressed concern about a phrase in the third paragraph, where staff members “strive to aid each student’s intellectual, physical, emotional, aesthetic and social growth so that he or she may become a useful and responsible member of home, community and society.”
“I don’t like ‘useful,’” Willis said. “Is someone reading this policy going to know what that means?”
Nelson suggested removing “forces” from the first paragraph and using “purpose,” a word in line with the district’s Strategic Plan.
But McKenna said, “Why don’t we scrap the first four paragraphs and just go with the last graph, which is our mission statement?”
The board agreed to table “Educational Philosophy” until the Dec. 17 meeting and to do a second reading of the allergy policy at that meeting.
The board approved two policies, Community Involvement in Decision-Making, #ABA and “Procedural Safeguards: Non- Discrimination on the Basis of Handicap/Disability,” #ACE.

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