As the 2018-2019 school year draws to a close, administrators and teachers, just like students, feel more than ready to close the classroom door and dive into the summer break. However, before you take that plunge, follows these tips to help you properly close shop for the summer.
1. Establish and follow procedures for clearing classrooms and lockers.
Some standard practices occur every year before teachers shut their doors: final grades are entered, report cards issued, attendance data gathered, and end of year awards bestowed on deserving staff and students. In addition to these common events, administrators should have procedures in place for cleaning out classrooms and checking the campus for those items inevitably left behind. You staff should be aware of the following:
Which documents and files constitute student records and where those documents will be maintained, either at the school site or central or district office.
Where to place documents, classwork, unneeded copies/ rosters/decorations that can be destroyed.
For independent study/nonclassroom based programs, where and how to work samples required to collect attendance funding.
How to check lockers, desks, or other student areas:
What to do with lost and found items (clothes, lunch boxes, electronic devices)
How to handle contraband (weapons, drugs, or drug paraphernalia): where to take it and who must be notified
2. Wrap up any outstanding complaints or investigations.
If any parent or student complaints remain unaddressed, do not ignore them. Follow the appropriate procedure and issue any required written responses. Be prepared to respond to appeals within the timeline, even over the summer break.
3. Identify Who Will Check the Mail and Fax Over the Summer
Although summer tends to be quieter on the student front, not all issues will wait until next school year. Parents regularly file special education due process complaints over the summer. For school districts, these complaints typically go to the district office, which remains open for most of the break. For charter schools, these complaints typically go directly to the school site, rather than to a central office. Regardless, due process complaints to do not get delayed simply because the office is closed. The same is true for student records requests. If you operate a school with only one location that is generally locked for the summer, at least on administrator should continue to check the mail and fax machine on a regular basis. This simple step can avoid more significant problems if a complaint goes unanswered for weeks during the break.
4. Use the Break to Conduct a Legal Review of Policies, Annual Notice, and Family Handbooks
The summer break provides an excellent opportunity to conduct legal reviews of all existing policies, procedures, and family handbooks. Keep in mind that state laws often change during the school year, so last year’s bullying complaint process may not still be up to date. In my next blog post, I will discuss the kinds of policies school districts and charter schools must establish, and the benefit of reviewing the family handbook, policies, and annual notice over the summer so you can hit the ground running when August arrives.
If these tips leave you scratching your head or worried that you need more information, the Law Offices of Megan M. Moore is here to assist. Contact Megan for legal advice and guidance to ensure you end the 2018-2019 school year strong.