Monday's meeting included timely discussion

The #MeToo movement has drawn attention to workplace sexual harassment in recent months, and is likely to continue to gain steam in 2018.  No industry, no occupation, and no workplace appears to be immune - including our schools.
USD 402 Augusta Superintendent John Black explained at Monday’s Board of Education meeting that students’ safety continues to be a top priority for the district.
“With what has occurred nationally, we’ve been asked if our policy is enough,” Dr. Black continued, “In response to that challenge, Doug Law, Donna Zerr, and I took a look at what is provided for the coaches and we want to take time for a more direct deliberate way of providing the information and sharing the expectations.”
Black shared a Code of Ethics document provided by the district legal counsel.  “We can change the language to include all staff positions.  This would be protection for the students and the staff.”
Coaches’ Code of Ethics
“The function of a coach is to properly educate students through their participation in interscholastic competition.  The interscholastic program is designed to enhance academic achievement.   Students should be treated with dignity and their welfare shall be of the uppermost at all times.
Coaches must be aware that they have tremendous influence on student athletes and shall never place the value of winning above that of instilling the highest desirable ideals of character.
Coaches must constantly uphold the honor and dignity of the profession.  In all personal contact with student athletes, officials, fellow coaches, school administrators, the media, patrons and parents; coaches shall strive to set the highest ethical and moral conduct.
Coaches shall have respect and support for the contest officials and shall actively use their influence to enhance sportsmanship.  Coaches shall not indulge in conduct which will incite players or spectators.
Coaches shall take an active role in the prevention of drug, alcohol and tobacco abuse.
Coaches shall promote the entire interscholastic program of the school and direct their program in harmony with the total school program.
Coaches shall not exert pressure on faculty members to give student athletes special consideration.
Society’s growing concern about abuse and the personal safety of students has drawn attention to the question of appropriate and inappropriate physical contact.  Athletics often create special and intense relationships between coaches and student athletes.  It is imperative to provide a clear sense of appropriateness.  It is with these concerns in mind, that the follow contact guidelines are suggested.
Non-Physical Contact                                                    Eye contact, conversation, verbal praise, and identification by name are always appropriate methods of communicating with student athletes.
• Physical Contact Boundaries
Behavior, not intention matters most.  Be aware of how specific behaviors appear to others.  
Avoid isolated student contact in secluded environments.  There is wisdom in the adage “safety in numbers.”  If you do meet with a student alone, make it in a public, well-trafficked location, or with a colleague nearby.
Prolonged physical contact should be avoided.  Pats on the arm, shoulder or upper back are generally considered appropriate.
Flirting is an emerging adolescent emotion.  It is important to recognize and shut down such behavior.
Be cautious of giving students rides and never for a single student of the opposite sex.  Again, safety exists in numbers.
Be cautious of inviting students to the coach’s home.  Team gatherings with multiple students and adults are generally considered appropriate.
The district is committed to providing a positive and productive learning and working environment.  Bullying, harassment, intimidation, and menacing by students, staff or third parties are strictly prohibited and shall not be tolerated.”
“We need to stress the importance of how specific behaviors appear to others,” said Black, “This is the first draft.  We can take this information and present it in direct training for the new coaches and teachers.”
Black also shared that EMC Insurance would provide at no cost to the district “Safe Schools”, a mobile phone app that can help keep students safe.  Students will be able to confidentially connect with police and authorities concerning harassment, bullying, and other types of safety issues.
No action was taken by the board, but an updated version is expected to be brought back at a future BOE meeting.
Softball Complex change order
Superintendent Black provided an update on the Softball Complex and advised that two unmarked electrical conduits were struck during excavation.  The repair will cost $1,269.  Along with the damaged unmarked electrical lines reported last month, Black recommended a change order for repair of the electrical lines, bus bar and breaker for a total of $3,057.
Board members approved, 7-0.
“At least this will be the last time we have to dig around there.  Softball starts in the near future and this work will be done,” Black stated.
Capturing Kids’ Heart training
Included in the consent agenda, which was approved, was Title One carryover funds from 2016-2017 to be used for Capturing Kids’ Hearts training for Garfield and Robinson Elementary schools.
Capturing Kids’ Hearts is a school-level intervention that impacts student behavior by enhancing school climate through improved relational and conflict management skills.  Schools implementing the program experienced on a average 22 percent decrease in discipline referrals.  In addition, students in intervention schools exhibited a 26 percent increase in pro-social behaviors.
Board members approved using the Title 1 carryover funds to purchase the training package.
Other action
The board also approved the 2018-2019 district calendar.
Executive session
Board members met in executive session to discuss personnel evaluations.  No action was taken upon adjournment from executive session.