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U-46 CAC committee presents report to board
By Seth Hancock
The student safety committee of School District U-46’s Citizen’s Advisory Council (CAC) gave a report to the Board of Education at its meeting on Monday, May 20.
Megan Larson, a member of the CAC committee, said work during the 2018-2019 school year revolved around parent communication, website information, bullying reporting and a Student Code of Conduct (SCOC) review.
“We started by reviewing… the Student Code of Conduct,” Larson said. “We solicited feedback from the CAC members, we solicited feedback from the PTOs and the different parent organizations and we also attempted to solicit feedback from the community.”
Larson added: “One of the challenges that we face each year when we do this is getting feedback and getting parents to actually review the Student Code of Conduct and understand what it’s there for and why it’s important.”
The CAC committee recommends expanding communication to students and parents regarding the code according to Larson who said the district should make it “more prominent and easier to access” on the district website in order to “inform them and to inform behaviors.” She said the district should point out the code during registration and in district emails, and videos should be created as well as possibly holding town hall events.
The code also applies to off campus activity by students according to John Heiderscheidt, director of safety and culture, who stated during the most recent change to the SCOC that it “applies to social media comments.” Parents and students also must agree to the terms of the SCOC in order to register for classes.
Regarding the district’s bullying tool, Larson said it should be expanded to include assault and sexual harassment.
The CAC report recommends: “Create more focus on sexual assault, harassment, and stalking reports and data and report those on a regular basis to the board for monitoring. Improve support for students.”
Larson said the bullying tool should have easier access and metrics should be created in order to create bullying data and she claimed: “This is a problem across the country, and you don’t know how big the problem is if you’re not paying attention to it and without having the numbers.”
The committee reports want more online safety training for students and staff concerning online bullying, radicalization, safeguarding personal information and trafficking.
“If we’re giving them this technology, we should also give them the tools to protect themselves while they’re using it beyond just having the technology in place for safe searches and students that are in crisis,” Larson said.
Larson said the CAC held an online safety presentation this past school year regarding radicalization and human trafficking. She said it was poorly attended.
The CAC recommends hosting more presentations on assault and harassment, bullying and associated violence, online safety, suicide prevention, teen dating violence and vaping and it wants to vet speakers on those topics for schools.