HCS officials seek more feedback about off-campus behavior policy

HOOVER – Hoover City Schools officials continue to study options to regulate off-campus behavior that can impact students’ ability to learn school.

An earlier proposal put forward by HCS Superintendent Kathy Murphy was taken off the table at the Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, June 4. The proposal had caused “angst” among residents concerned about its effect on freedom of speech, Murphy said.

The proposal, which was among other changes to the school system’s code of conduct, was intended to create discussion about the topic, which now will include meetings with various student and parent groups and a forthcoming community meeting.

“We’re trying to find a way forward,” Murphy said. “We’ve had a difficult year to say the least. We cannot have our schools disrupted and distracted. We want to get this right.”

A video showing students from both Hoover high schools making racist remarks sparked outrage in March and led to school-wide assemblies, many students seeking the services of school counselors, and students leaving school early.

Board President Craig Kelley thanked Murphy for her attention to the issue, though the initial proposal was met with criticism.

“We need to encourage a respectful, safe environment for our children,” Kelley said.

The Board also heard from Murphy about a potential policy about the use mobile phones, ear buds and similar technology in the classroom.

“We go to school for the purpose of learning, and it’s difficult to do that in instances where that phone is more prominent than what our teachers have to say,” she said.

In other news, the Board heard from Janet Turner with the Hoover City Schools Foundation about the organization distributing 31 grants to teachers in 13 schools for a total of about $50,000.

A record 89 letters of interest were received—more than double the number that is received most years, Turner said—for about $135,000 in requests.