Board of Education passes student anti-harassment policy

At the Shelby County Board of Education’s April 15 meeting, the board unanimously passed a student anti-harassment policy, meant to help curb bullying and help bring the system into compliance with state law.

Deputy Superintendent John Wright said the anti-harassment policy is the Shelby County system’s response to the Student Harassment Prevention Act, which was signed into law May 7, 2009 by Gov. Bob Riley.

The act requires all school boards across the state to adopt policies to prevent student harassment by July 1, 2010, Wright said.

Student Services Coordinator Donna Dickson said even though the policy is a response to a state law, it was also a real need for the system.

“Currently in our code of conduct, we address harassment and bullying behavior,” Dickson said. “This just backs up our efforts at prevention and intervention.”

Dickson said the school system’s recent anti-bullying forum garnered much support from the community for anti-harassment education.

“The people that attended are very supportive, and parents of victims of bullying are very supportive,” she said.

Wright said the anti-harassment policy, which addresses diverse forms of harassment such as written, electronic, verbal and physical acts, is an opportunity to drive discussion in Shelby County.

“This provides us with a prevention education opportunity to go out into the community,” he said.

The anti-harassment policy can be accessed at the school system’s Web site, Shelbyed.k12.al.us. For now, those wishing to see the policy should click on “Board Meetings and Agendas” to access the April 15 regular meeting agenda. There is a link to the anti-harassment policy next to item No. 14 on the agenda. Shelby County Schools spokesperson Cindy Warner said the policy would be posted on the Web site in the next few days.

In other business, the board:

-Unanimously approved a revised policy for students’ use of technology.

Technology Coordinator Susan Poling said the previous policy, which had been written in 1998, needed to be streamlined so it could be updated yearly.

“Because technology changes so fast, our policy got out of date pretty quickly,” she said.

Also, parents will no longer have to sign an annual release form for the technology policy. Parents will only have to sign a release form for the system’s code of conduct, rather than separate forms for both the technology policy and the code of conduct.

-Approved an amended takeover agreement with Travelers Casualty and Surety Co., which allows Blalock Construction of Birmingham to finish the Thompson High School classroom addition project. McCrory Construction was previously heading up the project.

-Awarded Bresco Inc. of Birmingham bids of $8,737 for a tilting skillet braising pan and $9,673 for a double stack convection oven.