Williamsburg Ind. board gives initial nod to first-ever employee handbook; superintendent points to need for the guide due to issues such as student-teacher interaction

Times Tribune, Corbin, June 22, 2016

Employee handbook proposed for Williamsburg Ind. School
By Timothy Wyatt

An employee handbook could soon be administered for the first time at Williamsburg Independent School.

Members of the board of education discussed the issue Tuesday evening during their regular monthly meeting, where Principal Amon Couch presented board members with the proposed handbook and what it entails.

According to Couch, the Kentucky School Board Association generates a standardized employee handbook that can be modified to the needs of each individual school district as they see fit. The handbook that he has been working on is derived from that template, but has been adjusted through conversations with other school officials and Board Attorney Paul Croley.

One of the biggest reasons for attempting to adopt such a handbook is due to regulations regarding student/teacher interaction, said Croley.

“Big areas of litigation right now concerns student and teacher interaction — text messaging, emails, things like that — and there’s never really been anything in this state, and most states, which has defined ‘appropriate’ or ‘inappropriate’ student/teacher interaction,” said Croley. “I think it would be something for us to consider adding to our employee handbook because, I think, it does a really good job of defining what is ‘appropriate.’”

Croley added that in a situation where a lawsuit is filed, one of the biggest claims made by a plaintiff is that a school district has failed to have adequate policies and procedures. A handbook that effectively defines those rules would be a safeguard for the district.

Board members unanimously approved the first reading of the employee handbook, which will require a second reading an approval at the board’s next meeting.

Though language regarding student/teacher interactions was not yet included in the current draft of the employee handbook, Couch and Croley will be working together during the next month to establish that information so it can be included before a second reading is approved.

In other board of education business:

- The second reading of an updated student handbook was unanimously approved by the board. The first reading, which was approved at the board’s May 17 meeting, included items concerning everything from attendance to morning student drop-off.

Currently, parents are permitted to walk their children into the school of a morning when dropping them off by signing-in with an attendant in the main foyer, receiving a visitor’s pass and then freely moving about the school as necessary. However, next school year — with the exception of the first week of school — parents will no longer be able to accompany their child to their classroom.

With the change, parents will be able to walk their child either to the front door or into the main office, but no further. Couch stated that additional permissions will be made to parents of preschool, kindergarten and special needs students.

Other changes include: prom and senior trip attendance rules, yearly parental excuses allowed, hats and unnatural hair colors.

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