Four new members of committee will discuss code of conduct this month

BERNE — Shared decision-making teams at the Berne-Knox-Westerlo school district will be holding two sessions to review updates to the district’s code of conduct in July.

A session at the elementary school to update its code of conduct will be held on Friday, July 20, and a session at the secondary school will be held on Monday, July 30, from noon to 3 p.m., said Superintendent Timothy Mundell.

The locations will be determined by the building principals — Annette Landry at the elementary school and Mark Pitterson at the high school. Mundell said that Landry was still working with participants to determine a meeting time.

Shared decision-making teams at each school, initiated when the late Richard Mills was New York’s education commissioner in the 1990s, are still required by state education law, with a district plan that is reviewed every two years.

The building-level teams of the shared-decision making committee are made up of different “stakeholders,” such as parents, staff members, community members, and administrators, said Mundell.

About seven or eight people are on each committee, said Mundell. The district had four new people sign up to partake in the upcoming sessions, he said; two will join the elementary-school team, and two will join the secondary-school team. Two people signed up in a meeting with the superintendent, one over the phone, and one through email, he said. Mundell declined to name the committee members.

According to BKW spokesman Ben Amey, these committees will review the student code of conduct and propose changes to the documents, which will be brought before the board of education in August for approval. The code of conduct is required to be reviewed annually, Amey said.

According to Mundell, the new members may only participate in the July sessions on the code of conduct, but are welcome to continue attending monthly meetings throughout the year.

The deadline to sign up for these committees, is Sunday, July 1.

When asked about claims that callers had been eschewed when they asked about participating in the meetings, Mundell said that these claims were false. He later added that the school is working to repair an aging phone system and has a policy to end conversations where someone “is out of bounds” in their demeanor or words — two things that could have led to these reports.

“Nobody was turned away,” he said.

After a parent described incidents of bullying and a lack of a response from the district at a June 4 school board meeting, Mundell announced that the district would be inviting parents and community members to review the code of conduct.

Mundell, while stating that the district does respond to incidents of bullying, said at the time that the school could do better in communicating its policies to parents and the community. A June 19 letter from Mundell to the “BKW Community” announced that the district would be seeking parents and community members to participate in the meetings, and added that informational meetings are anticipated to take place in early September.

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