Hempfield School Board asks administration to better communicate with parents about books | Community News

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When: Hempfield School Board meeting, May 10, in the administration building and via Zoom.

What happened: Linda Johnston, Board Member and Chair of the Education and Curriculum Committee, informed the Board that the committee discussed the process used when selecting reading materials for students.

why it matters: Over the past few months, several parents in public comments have asked how library books and course materials for students are selected. Following discussion at the last Policy/Legal and Education/Programs Committee meeting in April, the board directed the administration to better communicate to parents about the book choices available to students, as well as maintain consistency across all school levels.

Quoteable: “They’re starting to add more notifications for parents, so they can see what books are being discussed,” Johnston said.

Book justifications: A book justification form is completed for books that are used in English language arts classes. After new courses were approved last fall, teachers began reading and evaluating texts. These scripts are shared with the District English Language Arts Coordinator and Secondary Curriculum Supervisor, who review all scripts and analyze how they fit into the overall curriculum for grades 7-12. Recommended educational materials will be displayed for public review in the Board Room of the Administration Building for 30 days prior to scheduled Board approval at the next regular Board meeting.

Movement failure: One of the items on the board’s financial action list was to approve Fox Rothschild LLP as district counsel on a contract from July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023. Board member Dylan Bard asked to vote on approval separately. Board member Jim Maurer brought a motion to approve Fox Rothschild LLP, but the motion received no seconds from board members. Accordingly, the motion failed.

Sports policy: Former Hempfield School Board President Bob Mellinger addressed the board during the public comment section regarding the participation of transgender students in athletics, asking the board to create a policy that will benefit the majority. “It has been a year since the Board of Directors was asked to make a decision regarding the participation of transgender athletes in sports, and to my knowledge, no policy has been established. … You are here to represent the wishes of the people who elected you,” he said.

And after: The school board will meet for its next regular board meeting on June 14.

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