REEDSPORT — During its February meeting, the Reedsport School Board approved an update to the language of their bullying policy, to address recording an incident without reporting it, as well as discussing their websites and student employment training.
The board approved an alteration to the Reedsport Community Charter School handbook policy regarding the response to bullying and posting videos of bullying. The change comes after students posted a video of a fight at the charter school to social media without reporting it to school staff.
The board had some concerns of students being punished for recording a fight or other bullying so they had evidence to report. Jerry Uhling, principal of RCCS, said using a recording to report that an incident happened would probably remain unpunished. Board member Carey Jones also noted there was a gray area where a student immediately turned in video of a fight, but also posted or shared it with friends. The language stating that bullying had to be "immediately reported" also raised some concern, since students may delay out of fear of reprisal.
Superintendent Jon Zwemke said any punishment would largely depend on intent and whether a student was planning to report the incident from the beginning or did so only to avoid trouble.
"What's the intention of how they provide the information," he asked. "Are they coming in with 'sorry, this is what I have?' Or 'yeah, you were gonna catch me doing it so I guess I'm gonna come forward?'"
The charter school is sending information about the policy update to parents and guardians through various means this week, so everyone is aware of the change. Uhling said they would allow a brief grace period to allow for the information to travel, but added that full compliance would be expected quickly. Language may be altered slightly when the new policy handbook is approved.
The board also discussed updating the School District websites. Board member Savanna Wright noted that one of the biggest comments they get is parents and community members wanting updates and information. Zwemke noted that the websites are one of the first places people go for information about the schools, but added that regular updates are a low priority for the person running it, due to other priorities.
Wright added that she looked at North Bend School District's website as an example, but noted that while they have lots of information, the website almost has too much information and that it becomes "a jumbled mess" where it's hard to find anything.
The board discussed offering an elective project where students learn about web design and manage the website themselves, since web design is a marketable skill. While the board saw potential in the idea, the main issue they saw with it was that it would mean always having someone new learning how to manage the sites. The board did not make a solid decision and will consider it more going forward.
The board was also introduced to Jessica Dawson, the South Coast Business Employment Corporation youth talent adviser for Coos County and Reedsport. Dawson works with students, teaching them how to find information on trade schools, internships and job openings. She also helps teach them how to write and update a resume, how to do a job interview, when to follow up with a prospective employer, as well as other similar skills.
"That way they can get their questions answered before just throwing them in there," she said of preparing students for life after graduation. "I want them to know how to do those things and how to fend for themselves."
Dawson also has been working to set up internships around the communities she works with to provide students with work experience opportunities. She said they have a website set up to help students find internships and apply to them.
The board also discussed conducting their school tours in the future. Board Chair Eric Brandon said they wanted to show more visibility and transparency to the campus staff and families, and to see how things are going around the campuses.
"Just kind of listen and see what's good and what's bad," he said. "I think in the long run, it'll help to be able to see 'yeah, that's working' or 'OK, they need some more money.'"
The board members agreed that doing the tours with two members would be best to avoid potential quorum issues. Uhling added that having the tours happen on a regular schedule would be best for their schedules, as opposed to the day jumping around all the time.
Brandon said he felt holding the tour the week before a board meeting would be best. The board agreed to hold the first tour the first week of March.
The School Board recently held an electronic needs assessment of school staff, students and community members to determine how things are going with the schools and if there's anything they can work on. However, a fairly small portion of people actually participated in the survey with most of the participants being school staff members. According to board member Greg Carter, there were 117 responses and approximately 43 were school district employees. Brenden Harrison, one of the student representatives of the School Board, noted that he didn't know anyone who knew about the survey, and hadn't heard about it himself.
The board considered holding the survey again and going through a different means of promoting it to get people's interest. Part of this included having the survey appear on student Chromebooks.