The East Lansing Board of Education unanimously voted to adopt five new policies at its regular meeting on Monday, Mar. 14. The vote comes as part of the Board’s continued review and revision of the new policy manual that it adopted on Dec. 13.
As Chair of the Policy Committee, Trustee Kath Edsall noted that two of these policies, Policy 2401.01 New Member Orientation and Policy 2406.01 Board Member Development Opportunities, have been revised to “pretty much word for word” reflect the previous handbook.
She noted that Policy 5710 Student Suicide Prevention has been revised to reflect previous mental health policies in conjuction with the current suicide policy.
Throughout the course of the pandemic, student mental health has become an area of concern. In 2021, the ELPS Mental Health Advisory Committee launched a website, Trojan Mental Health Matters. The district has also hired more individuals to fill student support roles.
Policy 3304.01 Facility Naming is a new policy that was created after ELPS renamed Pinecrest Elementary to Robert L. Green Elementary in Aug. 2021.
“We didn’t have a policy so we wanted to have something written so in the future someone can look to what we did,” said Edsall.
The last policy that passed the unanimous vote on Monday evening is one that has been discussed since 2020 – a policy about withholding recess as a punishment.
Policy 5707.01 Recess is meant to recognize the importance of recess while encouraging teachers to only withhold recess as a form of punishment on rare occasions.
The policy does not prohibit teachers from this action, but requires them to properly document the occasion by logging the student’s and teacher’s names, the date of the occurrence, and the reason why recess was withheld.
“Brown and Black kids face discipline more often, so we know it’s an equity issue,” said Edsall as she voiced her support for the passage of this policy.
Edsall said that if a teacher chooses to take this action, it should be well documented so the district is able to have proper data.
After the Board shortly discussed the clarity of the language presented in Policy 5707.01 Recess, they moved on to vote on the adoption of the policy, along with the four other revised policies.
During public comment, a member of the community spoke regarding a policy change that came with the new Thrun policy handbook.
She indicated that this new policy allows for curriculum changes without Board approval, something she cited happened when ELPS administration recently removed Pre-AP History from the course offerings.
During Board discussion, the trustees noted that this circumstance may not be reflective of future circumstances since the administration simply removed one of three courses that offer the same curriculum.
The Board concluded that this policy should continue to be discussed and reviewed as it continues to come into play in future instances which may or may not prove that curriculum can be changed without Board approval.