School Board reviews policy on searches | CraigDailyPress.com

School Board reviews policy on searches

County approves action for student investigations

Bridget Manley

In other actions

At its 4 p.m. work session Thursday, the Moffat County School Board:

• Heard a report from Matt Beckett, Grand Futures Prevention Coalition director for Moffat County, about the 2007-08 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey conducted at Moffat County High School and Craig Middle School during the last school year. The survey indicated that parental attitudes favorable to antisocial behavior, students’ lack of commitment to school and early initiation into antisocial activities act as three main elevated risk factors for students in Moffat County.

• Reviewed Regulation 1511.1, Parent Communication, which spells out how and when schools should contact parents about their child’s academic progress and behavior. Concerning student behavioral issues, the regulation requires teachers to, in most circumstances, contact parents by the end of the day after the incident occurred.

• Reviewed academic growth across the district.

At its 6:30 p.m. monthly meeting, the Moffat County School Board:

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• Approved a resolution to support Amendment 59, also known as Savings Account For Education.

• Approved a first reading to repeal Policy 4331.4, Salary in Lieu of Medical Insurance. School Districts are no longer allowed to offer employees salary in place of medical insurance, Superintendent Pete Bergmann said, which required the school board to formally repeal the policy.

• Approved a resolution to support Referendum O. The proposed measure would require a minimum number of signatures from residents of all state congressional districts for proposed amendments to the state constitution.

On Thursday, the Moffat County School Board approved a first reading of a policy that governs under what circumstances students may be searched and questioned at school.

The policy spells out the roles of school personnel and law enforcement officers in cases where students have, or are suspected of, violating district policy or the law. It also outlines when and how parents should be involved when their child is searched or questioned at school.

The policy would allow school principals or a designee to interview students without parental consent when administrators have cause to suspect that students have violated school or district rules.

It allows school personnel to search students’ personal belongings or person while they are on school property or are participating in school activities.

However, all student searches would be subject to certain rules. For instance, a search of a student’s person must be conducted in privacy by an authority of the same sex as the student.

When a search requires a student to remove more than outerwear, including coats and hats, the operation must be turned over to law enforcement officials.

Searches aren’t limited to students.

The policy also authorizes administrators to seize “illegal, unauthorized or contraband materials” during searches of student’s personal property, according to the policy. These searches, which may be conducted without prior consent from parents or guardians, could be conducted randomly. However, Superintendent Pete Bergmann doesn’t believe school personnel need to resort to that option.

“The bottom line is, we can, but we wouldn’t,” Bergmann said when school board member Tony St. John asked if school personnel could randomly search a student’s personal belongings.

Students’ cars parked on school property would be subject to routine patrols, and vehicle interiors could be searched if a school personnel member has “reasonable grounds for suspecting that the student has violated or is violating rules of the school,” the policy reads.

The policy also outlined requirements for school administrators in search, questioning and seizure procedures.

Administrators would be required to explain the reason for the search whenever possible and contact the parents of searched students at the earliest opportunity.

The review was more of a formality than a policy change. The policy is one of several the school board has revisited after the Colorado Association of School Boards recently recommended policy updates to state school districts. Moffat County schools already are practicing most of the policy’s requirements, Bergmann said.

A group of district administrators recently reviewed the policy, using feedback from Craig Police Department Chief Walt Vanatta and Police Department Commander Bill Leonard.

Bergmann stopped short of saying the policy is something the district refers to on a regular basis.

However, “We use this policy far more than we’d like to,” he said, adding that it’s not unusual for the school district to refer to the policy every month.

Bridget Manley can be reached at 875-1795 or bmanley@craigdailypress.com

In other actions

At its 4 p.m. work session Thursday, the Moffat County School Board:

• Heard a report from Matt Beckett, Grand Futures Prevention Coalition director for Moffat County, about the 2007-08 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey conducted at Moffat County High School and Craig Middle School during the last school year. The survey indicated that parental attitudes favorable to antisocial behavior, students’ lack of commitment to school and early initiation into antisocial activities act as three main elevated risk factors for students in Moffat County.

• Reviewed Regulation 1511.1, Parent Communication, which spells out how and when schools should contact parents about their child’s academic progress and behavior. Concerning student behavioral issues, the regulation requires teachers to, in most circumstances, contact parents by the end of the day after the incident occurred.

• Reviewed academic growth across the district.

At its 6:30 p.m. monthly meeting, the Moffat County School Board:

• Approved a resolution to support Amendment 59, also known as Savings Account For Education.

• Approved a first reading to repeal Policy 4331.4, Salary in Lieu of Medical Insurance. School Districts are no longer allowed to offer employees salary in place of medical insurance, Superintendent Pete Bergmann said, which required the school board to formally repeal the policy.

• Approved a resolution to support Referendum O. The proposed measure would require a minimum number of signatures from residents of all state congressional districts for proposed amendments to the state constitution.