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Chester County Press

U-CF School Board holds special meeting to vote on several items

07/17/2018 10:29AM ● By J. Chambless

By John Chambless
Staff Writer

In a special meeting that was called to approve some routine items over the summer break, the Unionville-Chadds Ford School Board took up several voting issues on July 16.

With several board members listening and voting by phone, the meeting began with district superintendent John Sanville addressing the district's work on updating the code of student conduct, Policy 218.

“A committee of teachers, parents, students, administrators and board members is reviewing Policy 218 to make possible revisions to this policy,” Sanville said. “The committee started its work in June and has already had three meetings. Additional meetings are planned for July and August. The committee is reviewing our code as well as studying other districts’ codes, and studying current literature on effective disciplinary approaches in schools. In the coming weeks, we will start to closely analyze our policy to see where adjustments should be made.

“In late August, we will have a series of focus groups with stakeholder groups to discuss possible adjustments to the policy with the goal of having a draft to the school board in September,” Sanville said. Anyone seeking more information is asked to contact John Nolen, assistant superintendent, at jnolen@ucfsd.net.

Addressing the previously unscheduled meeting, board president Jeff Hellrung announced that “We have a policy that we're supposed to have five or more members present in person. Until last night we had five, but Mrs. Daniels had a family emergency that left us with four. I would like to propose that we go ahead with the meeting, in spite of policy guidance that we will have a quorum in person.

“It's a bad idea in general to violate board policy, but it's not something athat's forbidden,” Hellrung added. “I think that tonight, in view of our abbreviated attendance, it's pretty straightforward. We are mostly approving some summer hires that will help the summer program move along. I think we can do this and it would be appropriate.”

Sanville added that holding the meeting was legal under the district's code, and the board voted 6-0 to go ahead.

With board members Robert Sage and Elise Anderson voting by phone, the board approved a list of professional conferences for the coming year, retirements and resignations, as well as supplemental contracts. Six new hires – four classroom teachers, a reading specialist and a paraprofessional – were approved for terms beginning in August. The board also approved the staff for Extended School Year staff, and approved Dr. Karl Zimmerman as the school physician for the coming year.

Four novels were approved for a new class at Unionville High School, “English Anthologies and Novels.” The books are Gulliver's Travels, The Once and Future King, the 2018 textbook Perrine's Literature, and The Joy Luck Club.

The board also voted to approve new student handbooks for the elementary, middle and high school levels.

Hellrung thanked the district administration “for being responsive to some concerns from members of the board that I think were very valid” regarding the handbook revisions. “Separating the athletic handbook was a very good idea, as well as the other ones.”

Among the revisions is a simplified student dress code for the middle school and high school that essentially asks students to dress appropriately, instead of micro-managing specific items of clothing.

“We are trusting our students, and our parents, that they won't let students out the door if they're dressed inappropriately,” Hellrung said. “And we're trusting our administrators to be sensitive if a line has been crossed and a student is dressed in a way that is disruptive to our academic program.”

Previously, complicated dress code rules had become burdensome, Hellrung said. “We had put our staff in an impossible position with a dress code that wasn't really keeping up with styles, was a little bit too prescriptive, and put the staff in a bad spot, as well as our students and parents,” he said. “Now we're going to trust everyone's good judgment and see how it plays out.”

The dress codes will be the same for middle school and high school students.

A new athletics student handbook has been created, and is being reviewed by the board members for a later vote.

Board vice president Victor Dupuis joined the meeting by phone at 7:15 p.m., and took part in the unanimnous approval of the student handbooks.

More information and videos of board meetings are available at www.ucfsd.org.

To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email jchambless@chestercounty.com.

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