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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, May 04, 2016 10:02 pm

FWCS, board review gang, transfer policies

Jamie Duffy | The Journal Gazette

Fort Wayne Community Schools officials and school board members Wednesday tackled updating district policies on gang-related activity, transfer students and bullying.

The group that included Superintendent Wendy Robinson, FWCS attorney William Sweet, and Laura Cain, FWCS’ director of strategic initiatives, plans to meet on May 19 and every third week of the month to report proposed revisions on many district policies at the board meeting the following Monday.

The three board policies the group worked on Wednesday are already part of board policy, but the district wants to align its policies with those written by the state. Not all board policies come from the state, Sweet said.

In the case of gang-related policy, board President Mark GiaQuinta said the version under review from a local law enforcement-based committee was good because it seemed to provide the district with some immunity. He did have criticism of the way the policy was written and organized.

"Any corporation and school employee who promptly reports an incident of suspected gang activity and who makes this report in compliance with the procedures of this policy, is immune from a cause of action for damages arising from any failure to remedy the reported incident," part of the proposed policy reads.

Robinson said the district has had anti-bullying policies and measures in place for decades and that school administrators meet monthly to discuss and compare bullying activity in the schools.

Sweet said there was "a statutory list of what is considered to be bullying in the code of conduct."

On transfer students, the state asked school districts to come up with transfer student policy because "the legislature decided that public schools were cherry picking transfer students," Sweet said. "You either accept all or none."

Fort Wayne’s current policy states several reasons why a child cannot transfer. Those include students who have been suspended or expelled for 10 or more school days, violated firearms or deadly weapons laws, physically injured students, school employees or school visitors, or violated a school’s drug or alcohol rules, among other like rules.

FWCS is not obligated to accept transfer students who live outside FWCS boundaries, Sweet said and, in some cases, FWCS can get tuition support from the state.

According to current policy, FWCS accepts transfer students from outside its boundaries subject to certain limitations and does not discriminate on the basis of their academic records, scores on state accountability tests, disciplinary records, except as permitted by law or disability. 

"The gist is we want to take kids and we want exceptions to say no," Robinson said.