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Hearing set on virtual discipline policy

LPSS
Posted at 5:11 PM, Dec 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-01 18:11:06-05

The Lafayette Parish School Board will hold a committee meeting, followed by a public hearing, on a new virtual discipline policy.

The entire proposed policy is pasted below; you can read it by scrolling down.

The committee meeting to discuss the proposed policy is at 4 p.m. A public hearing on the policy is set for 5 p.m. and the regular board meeting follows at 5:30 p.m.

Here's the full proposed policy, from the board's agenda:

LAFAYETTE PARISH SCHOOLS VIRTUAL DISCIPLINE POLICY

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lafayette Parish School System has made virtual classes available to students. Students may also be required to attend school virtually when schools are closed due to inclement weather or other unanticipated emergencies. The Lafayette Parish School Board adopts this Virtual Discipline Policy in order to clarify expectations for student conduct in the virtual classroom and to provide notice of the possible consequences of inappropriate conduct in the virtual classroom.

Regardless of the model of instruction, student conduct is governed at all times by La. R.S. 17:416 and the Student Code of Conduct. Conduct that is unacceptable in the physical classroom is, under most circumstances, equally unacceptable in the virtual classroom. While students and parents normally have an expectation of privacy in their home, conduct that occurs in front of a camera and in view of peers and teachers in the virtual classroom may subject students to disciplinary action.

The context in which student behavior occurs is important, however, and will be taken into consideration by School and District administrators in determining whether there has been a violation of the Code of Conduct, the severity of the infraction, and the appropriate penalty, if any, under the circumstances.

Privacy and the Virtual Classroom

Students and parents, typically, have a reasonable expectation of privacy with regard to what takes place in their home outside of the view of teachers and peers in the virtual classroom. In order to ensure that students and teachers are able to work and learn in a safe and orderly virtual environment, it is imperative that students have a quiet, well-lit “classroom” space – free, to the extent possible, from toys, images, messages, personal property, or other items that may distract from teaching and learning or that may subject the student to disciplinary action if possessed on school busses, in the regular classroom, or on school property.

Students should be cautioned that the virtual classroom is for instruction and for engaging with peers and teachers for educational purposes. Students must not handle or display items, toys, messages, images, or personal property or engage in conduct unrelated to the lessons taking place. Students who engage in conduct in the virtual classroom that violates the Student Code of Conduct and this Virtual Discipline Policy may be subject to discipline in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct and this Policy.

School and/or district officials may be required, as mandatory reporters, to alert local law enforcement and/or the Department of Children and Family Services if they observe conduct, messages, images, or objects that raise legitimate concern for the safety and well-being of students in the virtual classroom. This may include students handling weapons in the virtual classroom, even if it is subsequently learned that the weapon is a toy or facsimile, as it is not always possible to determine remotely whether the weapon is real or not.

Conduct in the Virtual Classroom

Students are responsible for all content posted through their online account. Students are prohibited from sharing their online account username or password or using the username or password of another student. Students are required to have their computer camera turned on when virtual classes are in session.

Following is a non-exclusive list of behaviors that are prohibited in the virtual classroom and that may result in disciplinary action in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct and this Policy:
• Antagonistic, harassing, or discriminatory language of any kind with regard to race, color, religion, sex, gender, intelligence, age, orientation, disability, socioeconomic status or any other legally protected characteristic or activity
• Bullying and/or cyberbullying
• Use of obscene, degrading or profane language (written, verbal, pictures, drawings, audio, video)
• Displaying pornography, nudity or images of nudity
• Committing lewd or sexual acts
• Handling or displaying weapons, including toy or facsimile weapons*
• Any criminal or other illegal activity encouraging the unlawful use, possession, manufacture or distribution of tobacco, drugs or alcohol*
• Illegal posting, distribution, upload or download of copyrighted work of any kind
• Sharing assignments, questions/answers, or any other action that would violate any expectations or rules relative to academic honesty
• Posting personally identifiable information in any format other than via private message
• Indecent dress or disrobing
• Interference with the instructional audio or video
• Use or display of illegal drugs, alcohol, tobacco or tobacco products, or vaping devices*
• Violations of the Board’s/School’s Acceptable Use Policy or Device Contract

Consequences of Inappropriate Online Conduct

Parents and students must be aware that conduct that is unacceptable and disruptive in the regular classroom environment is, typically, unacceptable in the virtual classroom. The School Board recognizes, however, that virtual learning is a new experience for students and families, and that the context in which student conduct occurs must be taken into account in determining the appropriate penalty, if any, imposed for violations of the Student Code of Conduct in the virtual classroom.

Student conduct that occurs in the virtual classroom may be subject to progressive discipline which, depending on the seriousness of the conduct at issue, will include an initial verbal warning and consultation with the student’s parent or guardian prior to any formal disciplinary action. The seriousness of the conduct at issue will dictate the actions of administrators and the nature of the penalty ultimately imposed. For example, a student may be subject to a severe penalty, even for a first offense, depending on the seriousness of the conduct at issue.

Some factors that administrators will take into account in determining the penalty to be imposed, if any, for conduct that occurs in the virtual classroom will include:
• Age of the student
• Whether the conduct disrupted learning in the virtual classroom
• Whether the conduct was violent or threatening in any way
• Whether the conduct was illegal
• Whether the conduct interfered with the rights of teachers and/or students to work and learn in a safe and orderly environment free from inappropriate images, messages, language or behavior
• Whether the student has committed prohibited conduct in the past
• Whether the student has received prior warnings or discipline for similar conduct

*Conduct in the virtual classroom related to the display or handling of weapons or drugs, or other conduct that raises legitimate concerns about the safety and welfare of a student, must be reported immediately to the School Principal and/or School Resource Officer in order to assess whether the matter must be reported to local law enforcement and/or the Department of Children and Family Services.