Bus purchases, policy charges recommended

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Replacement school buses and vans are recommended by members of the Marshall County School Board who met Monday night to prepare for next week's meeting of the board.

Also Monday, another School Board committee considered its recommendation to abolish a policy on cheating as established by a former schools director. The board meets next Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the Central Office on Jones Circle.

Transportation Committee members quickly decided they had to ask the County Commission for money to buy school buses to replace the ones that are too old and have too many miles to legally continue in service.

Money to replace one or more of the school vans will also be requested, along with funds to improve two-way radio communication between bus drivers and the bus garage.

Chairman Curt Denton reported that bids have been requested for the cameras for 42 school buses.

The policy committee met for much longer, spending a lot time on discussion of the penalty for cheating and forgery.

Ginger Hardison, who teaches English at Cornersville High School, spoke to the committee, urging them to abolish former director Stan Curtis' administrative procedure dealing with cheating.

"It's the wrong policy," Hardison said. "I don't think we're sending the appropriate message."

As it stands, Curtis' procedure says a student who is caught cheating will be punished with in-school suspension (ISS), during which they can re-do the work they were cheating on.

Hardison pointed out that any ISS causes a student to be eliminated from Beta Club and called this "double punishment" and "inappropriate," even saying this encouraged cheating because students get to do the work over.

Hardison recommended that the punishment for cheating be a grade of zero on that particular assignment or test. She said this was more in line with what students would encounter in college, and assured board members that one zero grade would most likely not cause a student to fail the class. Further, she said her colleagues at Forrest and Marshall County High School agreed with her that a zero was appropriate.

"If you cheat, you need a zero," schools director Roy Dukes agreed.

The committee recommended to Dukes that he change the administrative procedure in line with Hardison's recommendation.

CHS principal Bob Edens was at the meeting to back up Hardison, and asked the policy committee to take another look at the policies on cell phones and on fighting. Edens said the current cell phone policy wasn't working, and asked for stiffer penalties. He recommended confiscation of the phone for one month after the second offense, and for the rest of the year on the third offense.

Edens also wanted stiffer penalties for students fighting at school. He said it was "the same people over and over," and recommended that students be sent to alternative school the second time they are caught fighting.

"It's not fair to the other 90 percent who want to learn," Edens pointed out. "That's what alternative school is for."

In other business, the policy committee voted to recommend to the board several policy changes suggested by the Tennessee School Boards Association.