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Board Addresses Phone Use In Schools

By Staff | Aug 4, 2010

Texting and other use of electronic devices in Wetzel County schools will become more closely regulated in the coming school year thanks to a policy that passed first reading Monday.

Wetzel County students may be expected to observe a new policy on the use of cell phones and other electronic devices when they return to school Aug. 21.

The board of education Aug. 2 approved the first reading of a new policy that prohibits interference with the educational process from cell phones “and other communication/electronic devices.” The rather generic policy gives each school authority to establish its own procedures, which must be submitted in writing for approval by the county superintendent.

In addition to cell phones, many of which are equipped with cameras, the policy pertains to “flashing devices or any other device powered by electricity that has the potential to cause distractions from, and/or interruptions to the daily educational process and the safe transportation of students.”

Students are permitted to use their cell phones after school and during afternoon activities “such as dances, games, intramurals, etc.” Students also may use their phones on a board-owned vehicle when returning from extra-curricular events, “only for the purpose of arranging student pick-up times and locations” with a parent or guardian.

Last school year, cell phones caused widespread disruptions of classroom activities and their photographic capabilities were misused to raise cheating to a new level. In addition, there have been instances of “sexting.”

The board-approved version contains no consequences for policy violations, allowing, instead, each school to prescribe its own.

The board also approved on first reading a revised policy governing “Visitors to School Grounds,” enacted to strengthen security and safety of school property. The policy provides for criminal sanctions against unauthorized visitors, as well as gives each school authority to establish its own policies that meet the minimum requirements of the county policy.

The procedure mandates the use of a sign-in and sign-out form for all visitors.

The board also approved the second and final readings of an emergency school closing policy and a pay supplement for county services personnel. Those policies become effective immediately. The other two move to a second reading at the board’s next regularly-scheduled meeting, 7 p.m., Aug. 16.

Elsewhere, the board approved the following lease agreements for the coming year: lease of an athletic field from the Town of Hundred for $8,300, to run from July 13, 2010, to June 15, 2011;

Property on state Route 7 for school bus parking, leased from the Huskie Lumber Co. for $2,400, from Oct. 16, 2010, through Oct. 15, 2011; and

Land owned by the board leased to the Short Line Emergency Squad for $1, from July 1, 2010, through June 30, 2011.

All costs remain at 2009-10 school year levels.

The board approved six parental requests for their children to continue attending Wetzel County schools in the 2010-11 school year and approved three such requests from parents who will send their children to Tyler County schools.

The board voted to allow the following non-public funded positions at New Martinsville School: seventh and eighth grade volleyball coaches and a 7/8 grade wrestling coach. A similar privately-funded position as assistant wrestling coach also was approved for Magnolia High School.

In addition, non-public funded positions were approved for seventh and eighth grade volleyball coaches at Paden City High School and a 7/8 grade wrestling coaches at Short Line School.

Meanwhile, the board approved the employment of Tammy C. Dudgeon as 7th grade girls’ basketball coach at SLS and Cathrina J. Spencer as assistant cheerleader coach at Valley High School.

The board approved an unpaid medical leave of absence for Linda Dianne Lemasters from her position as countywide family and consumer science teacher at MHS, PCHS, and VHS for the 2010-11 year.

The board accepted the immediate resignations of Linda J. Haught and Leslie A. Lively as co-directors of athletics at SLS and the immediate resignation of Christina L. Stickler as alternative education instructor.

Approved as countywide MI/LD/BD with Autism teacher based at MHS was Matthew Scott Bailey, while the assignment was changed for Rebecca E. McClain as kindergarten teacher at NMS to MHS guidance counselor. The board also hired Sharon E. Snider as second grade teacher at Long Drain School.

In addition, Kimberly L. Nelson’s assignment was changed from reading intervention teacher at SLS to fifth grade teacher. The board also approved a change for Danielle M. Standiford from second grade teacher at LDS to countywide Early Start/pre-school special needs teacher based at SLS.

Roger L. Hindman’s assignment was changed from evening custodian at NMS to daytime custodian at SLS, while Debra D. Kocher’s assignment was changed from a supervisory teacher aide at NMS to the same position SLS and VHS.

The board also changed the classification of Debra D. Throckmorton from a supervisory teacher aide at NMS to supervisory teacher aide/Autism mentor at NMS.

The board approved the following as countywide substitute teachers for the 2010-11 school year: Jennifer B. Bates, Theresa J. Beckett, Cecilia E. Edgell, Warren L. Grace Jr., Nettie J. Herrick, Elizabeth B. Hiestand, Deborah A. Keogh, William E. Longwell III, Alana J. Minor, Teresa M. Shackleford, Larry I. Weekley, Linda M. West, and Patricia C. Wildman.

The board also approved Ellie R. Graham as countywide substitute cook and Doris J. Worthy as countywide substitute teacher aide.

The board re-employed the following teachers on the basis of a permit or out-of-field authorization, all pending receipt of appropriate state certification:

Juliann M. Allman, countywide teacher based at SLS, second year; Leslie C. Emch, countywide teacher based at the Wetzel County Center for Children and Families, pre-school special needs, third year; Ashley I. Greene, countywide teacher based at WCCCF, pre-school special needs, continuing contract; Margeau R. Hafer, countywide teacher based at WCCCF, pre-school special needs, continuing contract; Amanda J. Ice, countywide teacher, pre-school special needs, continuing contract; John N. Jennings, HHS, biological sciences, second year; Velisha I. Shepherd, countywide halftime teacher, gifted education, second year; Cathrina J. Spencer, SLS, reading specialist, second year; Elisa N. Sprowl, NMS, reading specialist, continuing contract; Stephanie L. Tison, countywide teacher, ESL, third year; and Linda S. Zeh, countywide teacher, autism, second year.

Before adjourning, the board authorized the county superintendent to fill vacancies that occur prior to the first regular meeting in September, subject to board ratification.