West Grand School District Seeking Policy Feedback

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by Darrin Peppard
West Grand School Superintendent

The West Grand School District Board of Education is interested in your input regarding two potential policy changes. The two policies (JICH-R Drug and Alcohol Involvement by Students & JKD/JKE-R Student Suspension/Expulsion) have proposed revisions that change the consequences for students who violate these particular policies. While on first glance it may appear as simply harsher penalties for infractions, the direction from the board on these policy revisions goes a little deeper.

A look at the Healthy Kids Colorado survey data for 2017 shows over 30% of high school aged Kremmling residents drank alcohol within 30 days of the time the survey was administered. 22% of respondents stated they had ridden in a vehicle driven by someone under the influence of alcohol and over 17% of the same group had used marijuana in the same time frame. Our concern lies in high risk behaviors and the potential long term effects on our kids. Policy alone will not change or modify behavior, however. For this reason,
the policy now includes educational components for offenders as well as lengthened suspension times and a mandatory re-entry meeting with parents, the student, and administration.

We all want our kids to be safe but occasionally there might be a disconnect between behavior choices and what is honestly in their best interest. Looking again at the proposed policy changes, one would notice that drug and alcohol violations would include not only suspension from school but now a mandatory substance use/abuse educational component as well. West Grand feels strongly about our obligation to help students make educated, informed decisions related to high risk behaviors. These educational components exist in our health curriculum and our PE/Health teachers do a fantastic job of delivering the content. If a student were to violate the policy by being
on school grounds, at a school event, or on school transportation under the influence of or in possession of drugs or alcohol they would be required as part of the policy’s consequences to take a remedial substance use/abuse course. As for students involved in athletics and/or activities, the student activities and athletic handbooks have a clause regarding violations involving drugs and alcohol. The current ‘code’ is essentially a 3 week suspension from competition for violations.

This clause in the handbook will be reviewed as well in the upcoming board meeting to better align with the draft policies mentioned above.

The second policy change, related to suspension of students, changes the language regarding make-up/missed work while a student is suspended. Under the modified policy, students who are suspended from school for any reason would be required to turn in all work upon their return from suspension. The reason behind this is simple, our board feels strongly that suspension should not equal a vacation for the student.

As stated at the top of the article, we really want to hear your opinions about these potential changes prior to our upcoming board meeting. On the district website (www.wgsd.us) under announcements in the middle of the page there is a link for the survey where you can share thoughts and feedback with the board. We appreciate your voice and want to ensure what we do is focused on the best long-term interests of our students. Together we can decrease high-risk behaviors and keep our kids safe and healthy.