Grant School District 3’s disciplinary policies are in compliance with state requirements, but some improvements could be made, Superintendent Curt Shelley told the school board during its April 18 meeting in Seneca.
The matter was brought up at the board’s March 21 meeting by Baker City attorney Kyra Rohner-Ingram, who represented a student suspended from Grant Union High School following an Oct. 4 incident involving marijuana use and possession. She told the Eagle that district policy was not being followed correctly.
Rohner-Ingram was joined by Tracey Blood and Lisa Weigum, who expressed concerns that the district’s policies deprived students of essential support services and implemented discipline, not intervention.
At the conclusion of the meeting, the board asked Shelley to review the district’s suspension and expulsion policies and present a report at their next meeting.
Shelley reported April 18 that he asked Salem-based attorney Rebecca Jacobson to review the district’s policies to see if they complied with state requirements.
Jacobson found that the district’s policies complied with state rules, but some policies should be included in an updated student handbook, Shelley said. The handbook is available online.
Jacobson also found that a signed agreement was needed when alternative education is provided in lieu of expulsion. This would provide a better explanation of what additional supports would be available for students under the district’s disciplinary process. A written plan would be created, and a copy would be provided to parents, Shelley said.
Students receiving discipline need additional support, Shelley told the Eagle. The district needs to work through this matter and make improvements, he said.
School board member Haley Walker told the Eagle the district is working through a process to ensure the district is in line with state requirements and to ensure the district is doing what’s right for students.
“We asked the superintendent to follow up on our policies, and if we need more we’ll ask for it,” she said.
Blood was present at the April 18 meeting and told the Eagle she was encouraged by Shelley’s acknowledgment of a need for improvement.
“I look forward to seeing that happen,” she said. “I see opportunities for the district to improve.”
One thing Blood said she’d like to see more of is the trauma-informed approach to counseling, which takes into account the long-term effects of trauma on the brains of young people as they grow up. Some of the students who get into trouble at school need this additional support, she said.
“I’d like to see that approach built into the district’s disciplinary policy,” she said.