West Bend School District’s controversial harassment policy is again one step closer to implementation after making it through a second reading Monday night. The School Board is one approval away from enacting the policy that has ignited a fire under many district and community residents, students and religious leaders on both sides of the fence. Opposition cites the policy’s inclusion of “sexual orientation” in a list of protected classes, claims the policy violates First Amendment rights and doesn’t include parent notification early enough in harassment investigations.
Six residents spoke on the policy Monday night, five against it. Parental notification and listing the protected classes received the most criticism. “Why doesn’t this harassment policy include the parents until the disciplinary action has been decided and handed down,” said Mary Jane Tucci, mother of a high school student. Tucci is concerned children in the investigative process will be alone, and she wants parents involved early. “We want to be there for our children as you want to be,” she said. Parental involvement would benefit all parties, said Renee Vertin, who expressed concern over alleged harassers. “When does the student receive assistance — the one that’s being accused,” she said.
John Duwell stated he "understands" and has "been listening", but if that was the case, he would know that you can enumerate AND include all students - all in the same policy (even the DPI said so). Nobody said that the "required" wording had to be eliminated. We are simply asking for ALL students to be included. They (the school board), on the other hand, simply refuse. (What is it that they don't get???)
As for Joe Carlson's ridiculous question to Kathy Zarling during the meeting about notifying parents concerning every single incident...how absurd! Who asked for that? WE did NOT. We are asking for parental notification to be written INTO the harassment policy (it is not there whatsoever and the Administrative Rule is not enough), and included EARLIER in the process than when the disciplinary action is finally handed down. Joe's question made him look silly. Of COURSE, we don't need to know about every hangnail. This is yet another example of CHOICE.
To accommodate parent/citizen/taxpayer requests, the board would simply need to do two things:
1. Make the policy include ALL students. (For all intents and purposes, just adding "ETC." after the list of protected classes would suffice!)
2. Include parents in the policy at an earlier stage.
I guess that's just too difficult for our school board.
Kathy Zarling is playing puppetmaster, and the school board is dancing.
Kathy Zarling's comments were disturbing...I wrote her direct quotes....
"We will inform parents as much as practical."
When asked if a child is uncomfortable in the complaint process, Kathy stated they would ask the child what they would need to be made comfortable. If the child asked for their mother, for instance (Kathy's example), they school authorities would "most likely honor that if we could."
This is absolutely unacceptable to us as parents and grandparents in the district. It is an oppressive concept, and an undermining of parental authority.