New BCS district handbook in place for 2012-13 school year

Published 6:55 am Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A complete overhaul of the Bogalusa City Schools District Handbook was undertaken over the summer, with the biggest change being the complete elimination of the Zero Tolerance policy.

Shelley Gill, supervisor of federal programs, was enlisted to head up a committee consisting of principals and other school representatives, to take on the task of revising the policy handbook, including removing zero tolerance.

Gill, in speaking before the school board last month, said “We took St. Tammany’s (handbook) and compared it against ours, put our information in where applicable, adopted some new parts… There were some items from the state that weren’t included in our book that needed to be included and we included those in the new one. Basically, we redid the whole Code of Conduct. Zero tolerance has been taken out,” she said.

“There are new charts in there that are a little bit easier for the parents to understand. (For instance) it says ‘if this happens then these are the possible actions.’ It doesn’t say they call the police for everything. So those things have been removed out of the policy,” Gill concluded.

For those not familiar with the zero tolerance policy, it said, in part, “The Bogalusa School Board is proposing that the Zero Tolerance Policy be implemented for all students K-12 and the student aggressors who are ten (10) years old or older be arrested in accordance with the Bogalusa City Schools zero tolerance procedures. Law enforcement officers will be called by school officials when a fight occurs on campus, at extracurricular activities, on school buses, and/or at bus stops.”

Further along in the text the policy read, “Every fight on campus, at extracurricular activities, on school buses, summer school, summer feeding programs, extended school year and summer enrichment programs and at school bus stops will result in a report to criminal authorities.”

The school board, which voted unanimously to remove the zero tolerance policy from the handbook, thanked Gill and the committee for its work to bring the handbook up to date. The handbook was completely re-typeset and items moved where they more logically fit within the framework. One new addition is a section outlining clearly the attendance policy, types of absences (exempted, excused, non-exempted excused, unexcused and out of school suspensions) and the consequences of each of the various absences.

Another section that was completely overhauled is the section called “Acts of Misconduct/Possible Disciplinary Actions” in the old handbook. While the introduction to the section is primarily the same, the balance of the section is now eminently more readable and understandable, especially with the addition of footnotes explaining in some detail what students may expect in punishment for behaviors ranging from disruptive behavior on a school bus to using or possessing a firearm to violation of dress code.

It is hoped that parents and students alike will find the new handbook to be more user friendly, as it now contains information on most everything necessary to know about attending Bogalusa City Schools. A school calendar is included within the handbook, which gives the dates school will be closed, holidays, teacher in-service days, etc.

A copy of the new handbook has been earmarked for every student to take home, according to board vice president Adam Kemp. He encourages parents to read it and to contact their child’s teacher or the school’s principal with any questions.