Return to Headlines

Policy Subcommittee - 6/30/2021

SCHOOL COMMITTEE: POLICY SUBCOMMITTEE MEETING
Present: School Committee District Administration
Terri Medeiros and Andrea Thorrold Lori Duerr and Sonia Tellier
Absent: Melissa Keefe
Date: Wednesday, June 30, 2021
This meeting was conducted virtually via a Zoom Webinar.
• Review and Approve Minutes
Members reviewed the draft minutes from June 14, 2021. The minutes were approved as written and subsequently forwarded for
posting.
• Discussion of Annual Handbook Review
Substantive Change 1: Homework. Members of the committee reconnected with the discussion on June 14, 2021. As part of the
process, it was confirmed that this revision is no longer a standalone policy. Rather, this language is detailed in the handbooks
and, therefore, reviewed by this committee. Prior to publication of revised Programs of Study at both Falmouth High School and
Lawrence School, the references to “homework” will need to be reviewed and updated to align with this shift.
During the transition of discussion from homework to discipline, a member asked about the status of the COVID insert from the
2020 – 2021 school year and if that will be a continued practice in the 2021 – 2022 school year. The team resolved to keep it and
update as needed in response to guidance from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).
Substantive Change 2: Restorative Practices and Student Discipline. Members previewed the substantively revised discipline
sections for the four iterations of the student/family handbook: elementary, Morse Pond School, Lawrence School, and Falmouth
High School. It was shared that the framing with use of the Portrait of a Graduation, Charting the Course to Graduation, and shift
in the philosophy statement were well done. The conversation focused on the presentation of behaviors and disciplinary responses
in the tables. While the information captures a vertical progression, there remains a punitive overtone in several of the noted
responses. The ensuing discussion touched on a number of key items: what actions are reported to the DESE, what separates a one
time offense from a repeated offense, and what are we required to publish in this section in relation to the Massachusetts General
Laws (MGLs) and at the advice of legal counsel.
The conversation led to an understanding that the current drafts, as prepared for the 2021 – 2022 year, mark the beginning of a
larger transition to more restorative practices; however, in response to the circumstances faced in the pandemic, there is a need for
more professional development and common understandings among all educators and all members of the school community
before there can be additional revision to the tables and remaining balance of the discipline sections in each handbook.
As part of the sustained effort in shifting practice, a request was made to consider how time in a detention can be used to help
build/repair relationships and get to know students and their needs more. We also talked about welcoming the new Diversity,
Equity, and Inclusion Officer into this work once one is hired. After the meeting, the drafts were forwarded to legal counsel for a
review. Feedback received will be discussed at the Monday, July 12, 2021 meeting.
• Discussion of JEB: Entrance Age
First, members read the current Falmouth policy statement, and then members read the Massachusetts Association of School
Committee’s (MASC) model policy statement. The current Falmouth policy is restrictive regarding kindergarten placement while
the MASC model language allows for more flexibility. The question for the members centered on whether or not they want to
allow for more flexibility. Superintendent Duerr shared two current scenarios that brought this question to the foreground.
Superintendent Duerr contacted Jim Hardy, our MASC representative, and shared the response with members. Two members of
the public who were present also shared comment offering more context for the need to add flexibility within the Falmouth
policy. Members resolved to look at other local districts’ policies and to be in contact with legal counsel for more information to
inform further discussion and direction for revision. Members will reconvene on Thursday, July 8, 2021, at 9am for a discussion
about this policy statement. There is a hope to provide a revised policy to the School Committee for a first read at the July 2021
meeting and a second read at the August 2021 meeting.
• Other: Upcoming Information
üNext Meetings: July 8, 2021 • 9 – 9:30 am & July 12, 2021 • 5 – 6:30 pm
o Agenda for July 8, 2021
• Continue discussion on policy file JEB: Entrance Age
• Other
o Agenda for July 12, 2021
• Review and approve minutes for June 30, 2021 & July 8, 2021
• Continue review of substantive changes to Student/Family Handbooks
• Homework
• Discipline
• Other
Respectfully Submitted by,
Sonia L. Tellier
Assistant Superintendent