Superintendent Paul Nichols said at the Tuesday, December 14 School Board meeting that data has shown that the no cell phone rule, part of the Zero-Tolerance Policy recently put into place at the schools, has actually been received very well.

“The one area we still seem to see some disciplinary kickback on is in the area of the dress code expectations, said Nichols.

He said as he and his staff are focusing on preparing students for careers, it is appropriate to recommend a dress code requiring students to wear a black, white, or red polo shirt, tan or black khaki pants, a belt, and closed toe shoes for both male and female. They are considering allowing females to wear a skirt that is at least knee length.

“As they move into the career academy’s at the high school level, they will wear the corresponding color representing the academy they are attending.” He continued, “I think it’s appropriate that we look at this as it is a part of preparing for the careers in their future. That’s number one. Number two: I think it will help with the camaraderie and building the team building culture that we are looking for. This makes them a part of a team at school and I think it will significantly help with discipline. I also think that it will be easier, from an economic perspective, that it will be easier on the parents pocketbooks to know what you’re going out to purchase.”

The Board will have a month to consider the recommendation before making a decision in January.

Sherry Sheppard reviewed the 2022-2023 school calendar with the Board. “We have put it out to the division for a vote and the vote is 85% in favor of option 2, which has the early school start date and the earlier school end date.”

There was a discussion amongst the committee responsible for creating the calendar about adding days for virtual instruction. “We added the days in that were asked of us by the teachers. If we put in just basic teacher workdays, that are not a virtual day or tied to virtual instruction, it would add days to our calendar. No one sitting at the table for the discussion wanted to do that,” said Joan Hite. “They wanted at least one break every month so that’s why we worked it out the way that we did.”

Glenn Edwards commented, “On a virtual day I see kids running around at the grocery store or riding around doing nothing. We’re here to educate. If you’re going to take a day off, let’s take a day off. If we’re going to teach, let’s don’t pretend. There are too many people on the streets riding around doing nothing. It’s just something that bothers me and I’ve had a lot of parents reach out to me about it.”

“If I had to vote today I would vote with the teachers. They are there most of the time. I would let them make the decision.”

The Board will have a month to consider the recommendation before making a decision in January.

Mary Blankenship spoke about what her child went through when attempting to ask a question at a school meeting with PVHS Principal Dominique Sturdifen about the disciplinary changes. According to Blankenship, she was told she was being disruptive by asking so many questions and was asked to leave the cafeteria. The student attempted to reach back out to Sturdifen to have her questions answered.

“There were only two people in the office that day; Mrs. Sturdifen and my daughter. The account as to how the conversation played out and how each individual spoke to each other has varied but my daughter felt as though she was being dismissed, even laughed at. She became emotional and as she stood up to leave Mrs. Sturdifen’s office, she referred to her as ‘girl’. Even though my daughter did not mean it to be disrespectful, Mrs. Sturdifen took it upon herself to discipline my daughter by writing her up and issuing her three days of ISS.”

Blankenship says that her daughter is an honors student who is well respected by her teachers and classmates and has never had a disciplinary action.

After receiving a call from the Vice-Principal, Blankenship and her husband went to the school to find their daughter already in ISS. She removed her daughter from the school that day and contacted Mr. Nichols, who assured her that he would speak to Sturdifen and get back to her on Monday.

Blankenship says that she was allowed to take her daughter out of school without presenting any sort of identification to Sturdifen, who she had not met at the time.

She chose to keep her daughter out of school until she received word from Nichols about a resolution. She says that she was told that there was no appeals process for ISS disciplinary action. “I was told that the School Board set that policy, but there is no policy. Where is my daughter’s due process? How does that not violate her civil rights? Does she not have those at Park View?”

Mr. Howard Mitchell presented Paul Nichols with the Omega Psi Phi Citizen of the Year award for the work that he has done for students and in the community. This award was previously presented to School Board member Gloria Smith.