Harford Board of Education approves student sex offender policy, wraps up school year – Baltimore Sun

Harford County’s Board of Education wrapped up the 2021-22 school year and began working on policies for the upcoming school year at its meeting Monday night.

Before diving into policies and presentations, the board praised school staff and students for their work to complete another pandemic school year.

“First, I would like to thank Dr. [Sean] Bulson, his administrative staff and the 5,000-plus employees of [Harford County Public Schools] for getting us through a challenging but successful year, given all the obstacles we have run into, ”said board member Roy Philips.

The board then dove into its agenda, unanimously voting to approve a new student sex offender policy.

The new county policy requires the school system and administrators to arrange a meeting with student offenders and parents or guardians to advise them on how the student will be educated, in accordance with state law, until the student is no longer a registered sex offender.

Harford County Public Schools will have pathway programs for student offenders like the home and hospital teaching program, individual virtual learning, a Regional Institute for Children and Adolescents, or a nonpublic special education program to help them meet all graduation requirements, including required assessments and student learning, within the same time frame as other students.

The existing pathway programs also exist to help students who have illnesses that prevent them from attending class, have special needs, or are home-schooled.

“If a student is a registered sex offender, they would still continue to be a student of record, so they are not actually going to be withdrawn or expelled because they are entitled to receive an education,” said Kimberly H. Neal, general counsel. for Harford County Public Schools. “But they will not be allowed to enter a property in any public or nonpublic elementary or secondary school.”

The school system crafted its policy in response to a requirement by the Maryland General Assembly.

“This was a Maryland General Assembly requirement, but it pretty much matches our policy that exists anyway,” said Patrice Ricardi, a member of the board. “It was a practice.”

The law was designed to protect the right of students who are registered sex offenders to an education while barring them from school campuses.

The board also voted unanimously for three new supervisory appointments.

Natalie Holloway was appointed director of middle school innovation. In this position, she will assist and provide leadership support for all middle schools and all middle school innovation projects.

Holloway has been a county public school employee for 27 years, including 23 years in middle school leadership positions. In those years, she has been a principal, assistant principal and teacher.

Colleen Sasdelli was named director of special education. In this position, she will provide leadership to the department and will be in the delivery of special education and instruction services.

Sasdelli has 23 years of experience in special education, including 16 years with county public schools. In those years, she has been a special education teacher, special education evaluator and special education coordinator of compliance.

In addition to these appointments, the board added Bethany Farver to the elementary school principal pool. Farver is currently assistant principal at Swan Creek School, where she oversees kindergarten through fifth grade.

  • The board was provided an update on some of the best practices the school system’s general curriculum committee has suggested, including revising its homework policy. The school system does not have a set policy for the board to approve yet, but the committee is creating a stakeholder group to get input from.
    • Stakeholders will include central office staff, a school-based administrator, a teacher, caregivers and students. Each stakeholder will have a specific task in mind when it comes to reviewing homework procedures.
  • The board was provided an update on a new policy calculating final grades. The school system will be reviewing how attendance affects grading practices; how final course grades are determined at each level; and how grade changes occur, including that no grade may be changed 45 days after the end of a marking period.
    • Revisions for the policy include adding honors and dual enrollment as weighted courses; competency marks will be used for supplemental instructional courses at the middle or high school level for non-graded courses; attendance will only be a factor in a student’s final grade in the event of excessive unexcused absences; if approved by the executive director, a student can get the pass or fail option in rare circumstances; students in grades six through eight will receive high school credit for high school level classes they pass.

Both of these policies will be posted for public comments for 30 days, said Kimberly Neal, general counsel for the school system.

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The next board meeting will be on July 18.

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