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LCSS affirms controversial visitor policy

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POSTED: August 17, 2012 3:29 p.m.

Three days after parents packed a Liberty County Board of Education meeting to oppose its new visitor policy, the Liberty County School System released a statement Friday clarifying and affirming the restrictions.

“It was never the intent of the school system to keep parents away from their child’s education. Our focus is on keeping your children safe while they are with us at school,” Deputy Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Conley said.

“I remember when my family left the doors unlocked to our homes and our cars and even left the keys in the ignition overnight.  I wouldn’t recommend doing that today. We all make changes in our daily lives to ensure the safety of our loved ones.  We, as a school system, have to constantly make changes to practices and procedures because we must do what is needed to ensure the safety of your children and our staff.”  

Conley, who has responded to the issue because Superintendent Dr. Judy Scherer is out due to a family illness, highlighted the distinction between visitors and volunteers.

Volunteers are individuals who are interested in helping out where needed in the schools, but are not necessarily parents she said. Volunteers are not affected by the visitor policy, but the board is in the process of revising its volunteer policy to require volunteers to undergo background checks.

Conley said the new volunteer policy will be released “soon,” though she did not specify when.

Visitors, those who are affected by the standing policy, “are parents or legal guardians who wish to come in and visit during the school day.”

She said it seems that some parents interpret the new procedure to mean that they are only allowed on the school campus once each semester, which is not the case.

Parents are still allowed to have lunch with their children if their names are on the students’ registration cards, and classes will still be open for special events such as luncheons and musical programs.

“The 20-minute observation during the semester refers to classroom observations,” she added. “Because this is instructional time for the students, students need to have the opportunity to learn without constant interruptions.  

“If one parent observes the child’s class once during a semester, that is 30 interruptions for a class of 30 children.  If both parents observe once during the semester, this could result in a total of 60 interruptions. Imagine the number of interruptions the students would encounter if parents visited the classrooms on a weekly basis. (One parent times 18 weeks times 30 students equals 540 visits.),” she wrote.

Some have suggested that the LCSS limit access only for parents who are “disruptive or ‘do not need to be allowed to visit,’” but Conley said doing so is not legal.

“This may seem like a simple solution; however, parents or legal guardians have the same rights unless they have their rights removed through the judicial system or have a stipulation placed on them that would prevent them from being on our campus,” she said. “All parents must be given the same opportunities.”  

 

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