A Vigo County School Board committee has undertaken the laborious task of reviewing all school board policies so they can be updated, but one school board member — Mel Burks — asked why.

The Indiana School Boards Association has reviewed all the policies, so Burks asked during a board work session Monday night, “Why are we doing it if ISBA has already done it?”

The policy committee, which consists of Alpa Patel, Dave Lotter and Jackie Lower, plans to review all policies to update them, and it also is making suggestions.

Lower said ISBA reviewed the policies from a legal standpoint, but now the committee is going over each policy more thoroughly so they can be updated.  Patel said many date back to 1976 and haven’t been changed.

 “I thought we needed a fresh look,” she said. Many of the suggested changes involve wording or revisions to statements.

Patel believes some of the policies are no longer needed and some are too wordy. She has reviewed policies of other school districts and “they don’t have as much as we do.  ... To me that indicates it’s not required.” 

One proposed change that drew discussion involves including the term “gender identity” in a non-discrimination policy.

The committee suggested it be included, but Burks and Superintendent Danny Tanoos believed it was covered in the policy under different language. The language called for “respect for the rights of others to seek and maintain their own identities.”

Patel believes wording needs to be more specific. Lotter said after the meeting that “given the climate in our nation, if we don’t consider that or at least check with Indianapolis, we are negligent.”

Tanoos pointed to other wording in the non-discrimination policy that might be considered discriminatory. 

Patel said she would ask ISBA to see if it has a better non-discrimination policy that VCSC could adopt, or the district may ask its attorneys to develop a new one. The last revision was in 1996. The board recently approved an anti-harassment policy.

The board agreed that substantial policy changes, or deletions, should be reviewed by ISBA before the full board adopts them.

Patel and Lower believe the review process of all board policies could take a year or longer.

The board expects to have a first reading of the proposed changes from the section, “Foundations and Basic Commitments,” at its next regular meeting. Some of the policies are  “community involvement in decision-making,” “non-discrimination,” and “mission statement.”

In other business:

• The board did approve a personnel report that included the hiring of Ryan Luce as a new assistant principal at South Vigo High School, effective July 1.

He will replace Steve Joseph, who will be the next principal at Woodrow Wilson Middle School. Luce currently is assistant principal and athletics director at Rockville Jr./Sr. High School.

• The board also approved a change of status for Rick Long, from acting director of facilities to director of facilities and  transportation, effective today. He replaces Franklin Fennell.

• Also, Greg Gauer — who has been acting assistant director of facilities and maintenance — is now assistant director of facilities and maintenance, effective today. He replaces Rick Long.

• During the meeting Patel proposed the board look into using a technology tool called BoardDocs, a paperless, web-based service that makes meeting agendas and supporting documents available online. Many districts use it, she said. It would enable the public to be better informed about what is happening at meetings, she said.

The BoardDocs’ website indicates its “cloud-based services allow organizations to significantly improve the way they create and manage board packets, access information and conduct meetings.”

The board hopes to have a presentation at a future work session.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or at sue.loughlin@tribstar.com. Follow Sue on Twitter @TribStarSue.

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