The Unionville-Chadds Ford School District overhauledits discipline policy last year. Major changes included flexibility in metingout student punishments so reprimands better suit infractions; mandatoryeducation and counseling for smoking, alcohol, and drug offenses; and a chancefor the rescission of a single suspension from student records. Initially,rescission was deemed important because district policy stated that suspensionsmust be reported on college applications.
At the Sept. 16 school board meeting, directors votedto change policy 216 so that Unionville High School will no longer report anydisciplinary actions on student college applications.
This policy change only impacts how the schooladministration completes each students college application. Students will still have to answer whether ornot they have been suspended on their portion of the form.
Board members spoke both for and against this changeat the three-hour Sept. 9 work session.Just to remind everyone, this does not in any way, shape or form changethe rescission policy that we agreed to a year and a half ago, board memberJohn Murphy said. I did have some concern that this would be conflicting ortaking the effectiveness out of rescission, but after discussions with Dr.Sanville, I understand now that a student has to self-report disciplinaryaction. So if a student is suspended and has a rescission, they in clear consciencecan self-report on the common app that they have not been disciplined. Ipersonally dont feel that a counselor should have an ethical dilemma, becauseto me, a rescission is the same as an expungement. But if they feel it is anethical dilemma on their part, then I support this.
When asked in an email why the counselors have thisethical dilemma while students with a rescinded suspension do not, the districtresponded that, Some counselors feel like it goes against their ethicalstandards of counseling.
Board member Elise Anderson emphasized that studentswill still have to answer the suspension question on their college application,and added, I think that its important to recognize that in our community,many feel this is the jurisdiction of the parents. Our discipline policy, if Iask myself what the purpose of the policy is, is to have a safe environmenthere, and an environment suited for optimal education for all our students. Andif I boil it down to that, I support this change.
Board president Jeff Hellrung said that the revisionsto the discipline policy approved last April ensure that the student pays anappropriate price for their actions. They are still suspended, and they willreceive counseling or perform other educational activities to make up for theiroffense. Accountability is important,and non-reporting doesnt change any of that, Hellrung said. Theyve been accountable, theyve paid a penalty,theyve learned, and theyre moving on, and we are moving on together withthem. Why should high school behavior follow them to college and beyond?
Board member Tom Day opposed the policy change duringthe work session. Day said that offering a chance for rescission should beenough to remedy a one-time student mistake. Our kids are mature enough torealize that discipline comes at a cost, and we have offered them a chance forsecond chances vis-a-vis the rescission policy, but in the event thedisciplinary action is not rescinded, I dont see any reason why we should not report,he said.
Day softened his position when it was time to voteduring the Sept. 16 board meeting. Over the past month, Ive spoken toadministration, Ive spoken to school leadership, and Ive spoken to members ofthe community, Day said. And I understand now the inconsistencies inreporting discipline across the schools in our country and our county vary, andI realize and understand and appreciate the inconsistencies in reportingbetween colleges that have the common application and dont have the commonapplication, and further understand and appreciate the inconsistencies withoutthis policy that would occur within our own district. So with that said, I willvote in favor of this.
The policy change passed 6-2. Board members Bob Sage and Steve Simonsonvoted against it. Carolyn Daniels wasabsent due to a recent surgery.
Hellrung closed the meeting by citing the boardspositive working relationship. I really do appreciate being on this board andbeing able to debate very difficult and sometimes complicated and controversialquestions, he said. And I appreciate the lengths that each board member goesto, whether youve been in favor, or ended up in favor, or opposed, forexample, to policy 216. I reallyappreciate the diligence and conscientiousness that everyone put into it. AsDr. Sanville said, the ability to disagree agreeably has been on display. Ithink our board has been kind of a beacon of civility in a sometimes less-than-civilworld, and Im really appreciative of that.
In other news, Chadds Ford Elementary School PrincipalShawn Dutkiewicz resigned effective Sept 30, 2019 to assume the role of theRadnor Township School Districts Elementary Director of Teaching and Learning.CFE parents were notified on Aug. 26 via an email. The board approved thehiring of Dennis McKnight as the Chadds Ford Elementary School InterimPrincipal at a salary of $700 per day, effective Oct 1.
This is not our first go-around having Dr. McKnighthere, Sanville said. Dr. McKnight has been the interim principal at the highschool, the interim principal at the middle school, and he has also had somestints over in Radnor, which is where he is right now. Were thrilled you canjoin us and be part of the team at Chadds Ford until we can find a permanentprincipal.
Ten Top High Schools in PA, according to US Newsand World Report. The Chester County Press asked if they report suspensions oncollege applications:
1. Masterman,Philadelphia: YES
2. DowningtownStem Academy: YES
3. RadnorHigh School: NO
4. CentralHigh School, Philadelphia: YES
5. ConestogaHigh School, Berwyn: NO
6. StrathHaven High School, Wallingford: YES
7. UnionvilleHigh School: NO, effective 2019
8. NewHope-Solebury High School, New Hope: NO
9. UpperSt. Clair High School, Pittsburgh: NO
10. NorthwestCollegiate Academy, Erie: NO
Kennett High School: Did not respond +
Avon Grove High School: NO
Oxford High School:NO, unless college requires it and parent gives written consent
+ The default is YESunless stated in school policy. While the Chester County Press could not find it in the policy manual, we could not confirm with theschool.
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