Alachua County Education Association
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• It is essential that a school have a medication policy regardless if there are state mandates. These policies must be balanced between too permissive and too rigid.
• As the school nurse, this chapter is especially interesting to me. Our school policy is based off of the requirements from the MN Department of Health. This policy is currently under review due to it requiring a physician ʼs signature for any medications given at the school and the physicians are charging parents for each form they sign. This has created a financial burden for our student ʼs families. It will be difficult to meet the state requirements and accommodate our family ʼs needs as well.
• In the past decade, most schools have utilized computers to compile their student ʼs records. Student records must be easily accessible by staff and parents but there are both state and federal lawyers which have to be followed.
• According to “The School Law Handbook”, The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act has the following mandates: Parents receive annual notice of their rights. Parents have the right to review their child ʼs record. Unauthorized 3rd parties aren ʼt allowed access to records. Parents must give permission prior to outside agencies having access to records. Personally Identifying information cannot be released without parent ʼs consent. The authorizations must be kept in the file. Only school staff with “legitimate interest” may gain access to students record. Eighteen year old students can see their records. Students in studies shall not have their personally identifying information utilized other than by the person ʼs conducting the study. All instructional material involved in a study must be made available to parents. Lastly, no student The School Law Handbook EDUC 600 Missy Jacobson should have to reveal psychological information or treatments income, sexual behavior or religious affiliation.
• The Health Services Department at Moorhead Public Schools has a special program on our computer data base called “Health Records”. This keeps track of all of the visits to the Nurses Office, any health conditions, treatments, communication between nurses and parents. When utilizing this program I am always careful knowing that the parent ʼs could have full access to these records if they request. I also am very cautious when teachers or other school personnel request these records or portions of these records due to the “legitimate interest” mandates.
• The basis behind personnel evaluations in school should be to improve instruction for students. The local school boards and administrative agents have the legal authority to make personnel decisions.
• Two primary groups in the school personnel are support personnel and professional (certified/licensed) personnel. Professional staff may have tenure status created by state law or annual contracts. The must be given a renewal status on or before a specific date and cause for termination must be specified. They are allowed a hearing to have their termination explained.
• Termination of employees should be based on the employees behavior on or off the job causing conflict with the “educational development and personal welfare of students and/or other staff members.
• Criteria for personnel evaluations are determined by the local school board but must comply with state laws. State laws require professional staff termination to show a reason for dismissal and adequate documentation of evidence to support this claim. When employee is dismissed they should be treated with dignity and should understand the reason for dismissal.
• Governmental immunity often applies in a civil suit involving allegations of misconduct agains school boards. This holds true as long as the board is carrying out it ʼs function.
• School boards are not liable for negligent acts of the school employees.
• State legislative has the authority to maintain, supervise and control the public school.
• It seems that school boards in the area that I live in are continuously “under fire” and are getting criticized for being noncompliant with state laws and school regulations. A small town nearby has the residents in continual conflict due to allegations of the school board holding “secret meetings” and there has been rallies to remove the superintendent. The board disputes these claims. They have had multiple school board members resign, have replaced the superintendent, had the interim superintendent resign, and now have great difficulty finding citizens to run for the school board positions. Although legally the school board may have governmental immunity, it still holds a lot of responsibility as the school tends to be the building blocks of small communities.
• According to The School Law Handbook, “the boundaries of professional liability are expanding beyond the confines of traditional tort claim”.
• Educational accountability focuses on the expertise and potential liability of principals and teachers. This is displayed by the push for teachers and schools needing to demonstrate that they are teaching students at a level which allows them to meet the determined set of standards.
• Federal government is connecting eligibility for funding to testing results. With this in mind, educational malpractice may become more prevalent.
• There is an increased focus on teacher and administrator competence with the overall goal to improve student ʼs performance. I don ʼt believe this matter is “black and white” and cannot be viewed as a concrete measurement. I read a recent article where a California teacher committed suicide after his student ʼs achievement scores on national tests were published in a local newspaper. Although there reports that he was an exceptional teacher in an intercity school, he was rated as a less effective teacher. I don ʼt think the general public looks at the fact that he was working with some of the toughest kids in the country and gains which he had made are not accounted for in these test scores. On the other hand, I remember when I was in high school nearly twenty years ago and my English teacher allowing us to openly cheat in class, handed out the teacher ʼs key to a couple of us student ʼs on our state performance tests and letting us watch “Saturday Night Live” at least one day a week in class. I do think that teacher competence should be looked at in those situations as I feel I was not well prepared in college and truly account part of my lack of writing and English skills to this teacher ʼs poor performance. Finding the happy medium when evaluating teacher competence is a true challenge.
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