Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

June 18, 2014

Drug test policy goes to BOE without recommendation

CROSSVILLE — The Cumberland County Board of Education will consider changes to the extracurricular drug testing policy when it meets this month, though the policy committee was unable to come to a consensus on one point of the policy.

"This isn't supposed to be a gotcha," said Richard Janeway, 2nd District representative.

He and Josh Stone, 4th District representative, have deadlocked on how to handle a positive test one first offense. The policy allows a student to choose to undergo alcohol and drug treatment or give up the privilege of participating in extracurricular activities for a year. Stone has supported not allowing students testing positive to return to extracurricular activities until counseling or treatment has been completed.

The policy committee has recommended changes that eliminates seventh- and eighth-grade students from the drug testing program, which tests a percentage of students at all schools who participate in any extracurricular activity. Also, the policy will no longer require parent or guardian consent signatures to be witnessed by school personnel and will require parents or guardians to facilitate transfer of documentation of attendance and completion of an assistance program to the school system.

Students would also be barred from all extracurricular activities for one calendar year if they did not elect to seek treatment or counseling.

In other action, the committee recommended changes to several policies due to changes to state law and other changes recommended by the Tennessee School Boards Association. Included is a further change to the tobacco-free schools policy, which just completed two successful readings by the board. Earlier changes had added e-cigarettes to the list of products banned on school property. The TSBA recommendation also includes "related paraphernalia," which would include smokeless tobacco/vapors, and other items. Stone moved to accept the TSBA policy.

Also recommended were:

•Policy 4.400 Instructional Materials, giving parents and guardians the right to inspect tests developed by and graded by a teacher;

•Policy 4.802, Student Equal Access (Limited Public Forum), amended to comply with the Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimination Act where,  if students are allowed to speak during a school-sponsored event, they may publicly state or express a religious viewpoint without fear of discrimination or retaliation;

•Policy 4.803, Recognition of Religious Beliefs, Customs and Holidays, amended to comply with the Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimination Act to allow students to express religious beliefs in homework, artwork, and other written or oral assignments, free from discrimination based on the religious content of their submissions. The policy will explicitly prohibit students being penalized or rewarded due to the religious content of their work;

•Policy 6.200, Attendance, amending the truancy portion of the policy to state that when a student is absent five days without adequate excuse, the principal or designee will initiate meaningful communications with the student and parents to determine the underlying cause of the unexcused absences. After 10 unexcused absences, the principal or designee will attempt to meet in person with the student and parents or guardians to determine appropriate services needed to improve student attendance. All communication attempts and the attendance plan will be documented.

No change was recommended for Policy 6.312, Use of Personal Communication Devices. TSBA has suggested including new types of wearable technology, but Janeway noted it would be impossible to provide an all-inclusive listing of technology and believed the current policy addressed that such technology was not to be used to undermine instructional practices or violate an individual's privacy.

Proposed changes to policies will be presented at the June 26 meeting of the Cumberland County Board of Education, set for 6 p.m. at the Central Services office on 4th St.

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