Eastport South Manor Board Of Education Considers Policy Changes

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The Eastport South Manor Board of Education introduced two proposed policy changes during its meeting on January 15 that officials said would address student and staff relations, as well as outline the rules governing non-educational materials that are sent home with students.

Linda Weiss, the assistant superintendent for personnel, said during last week’s meeting that the first policy would address “fraternization,” or improper relations between staff and students, as well as outline a way for students and staff to report such instances.

Both she and Superintendent of Schools Mark Nocero said that while no specific incidents prompted the proposal, the district’s policy book lacked such guidelines and they felt it was a necessary addition that would protect the welfare of students. “It’s just good practice,” Ms. Weiss said.

Both policies are accessible on the school district website, www.esmonline.org. Board members said they would vote to adopt them at their next meeting scheduled for Wednesday, January 29, at 7 p.m., at the high school on Moriches-Middle Island Road in Manorville.

The first policy, titled “Staff-Student Relations (Fraternization),” states that staff members are prohibited from engaging in any behavior that could “reasonably lead to even the appearance of impropriety.” It also states that staff should not socialize or entertain students “in such a manner as to create the perception that a dating relationship exists,” and it outlines a list of inappropriate staff behavior, including flirting, dating, displays of affection, or frequent communication with a student unrelated to school work.

Any staff or students who witness or believe they were subjected to such inappropriate behavior should report the incidents to any staff member or a supervisor, according to the proposed policy, which also notes that such reports will be kept confidential.

A provision of the policy also prohibits all individuals from taking retaliatory actions against anyone, including the victims or witnesses who report the inappropriate behaviors.

Ms. Weiss pointed out that an important part of the updated policy is routine training for both students and staff, so that they are aware and reminded of the policy, as well as the importance of reporting such instances.

The board also introduced a policy that addresses the dissemination of materials that are sent home with students. The policy states that the Superintendent of Schools, or his or her designee, must sign off on any materials sent home from organizations outside the school. It also notes that materials sent home with or circulated among students must be of educational benefit, should contain no commercialism, should serve no partisan political purpose and must be related to school or community activities.

The district also has the right to restrict any flyers or mailings if it determines that they could cause “substantial disruption.”

In addition, the policy requires that any materials from organizations outside the school include a disclaimer that states the following: “Distribution of this flyer does not constitute endorsement of an event or organization and/or agreement with the material content by the District or the Board of Education.”

Board members said the district’s attorney recommended the amendment because the district did not have formal guidelines in place. They also expect to approve the change at their next meeting on January 29.

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