August 1, 2023
School Board appoints new Head Start Director
School Board approves appointment of new Head Start Director
Davis School District Board of Education unanimously approved the appointment of Marianne Henderson as the new Director of the Head Start program.
The process of hiring a new director for the Head Start federal program includes approval by the school board. Assistant Superintendent John Zurbuchen introduced Ms. Henderson to the board after thanking and congratulating Dr. Teresa Oster on her retirement.
In speaking to the board of her retirement, Oster said, “It has been such an honor to serve DSD, and to work with my staff.”
Prior to the school board’s approval, Henderson shared with the board her vision and spoke about her desire to continue supporting early education for students of the Davis School District.
“I love to see how children can learn and to see families be successful so that the child can be successful, said Henderson.
Henderson will begin as Head Start Director immediately.
Items for consent unanimously approved
Two amendments provide clarity to Nondiscrimination Policy
Dr. Heidi Alder, outside counsel for Davis School District, reported two amendments to the Nondiscrimination Policy and Complaint Procedures for board review and approval.
The first amendment related to the management of complaints. The district policy originally stated that the eight employees and the director of the Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO) handle and investigate all complaints of discrimination and harassment.
Dr. Alder explained that at the beginning of the school year the OEO was investigating 100 reports per week and "it was clear that it was not feasible for those eight employees to go out to schools and complete all investigations."
The policy change allows for each school's cultural liaison (a current administrative assignment at each school) to conduct investigations of harassment and discrimination. The school administrator will then submit the information to the OEO for review and a final determination of whether discrimination had taken place.
The second change to the policy is to redefine the term harassment. The original definition of the term was defined as "unwanted conduct on the basis of a protected class." The proposed change will create a better distinction between harassment and misconduct.
Policy 11IR-100 1.2:
"The District defines harassment that violates this Policy as objectively offensive conduct based on a person or group’s actual or perceived membership in a Protected Class that given the totality of the circumstances has a negative impact on one or more persons in that Protected Class or has the purpose or effect of creating an unwelcome environment for a reasonable person in that Protected Class. Harassment need not include intent to harm, be directed at a specific person, or involve repeated incidents."
The school board unanimously approved the policy in its correct revision language.
Results of Biennial Healthy Lifestyles School Board Report
Districts are required to share statistics regarding teen pregnancy, child sexual abuse, sexually transmitted diseases and infections and pornography complaints with their boards of education, as outlined in the Utah State Board of Education’s rule R277-474-5(4)(B).
Dr. Tim Best, Director of Health, Athletics & Physical Education, presented county and statewide data at board meeting.
Teen pregnancy rates are on the decline statewide and in the Davis School District, with 11 teen births in the district in the last year.
In the State of Utah, 18.3% of child sex abuse cases are reported by teachers and staff in the school system.
“DCFS and our educators are the first line of defense for potential warning signs,” said Best, explaining that the more familiar teachers are with signs of abuse, the more they are able to help children in dangerous situations. He emphasized how important it is for students to identify trusted adults in their lives, especially at school, because the majority of child abuse cases in Utah are perpetrated by parents or guardians.
In the 2022-23 school year, there were 485 pornography complaints, which encompasses sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexting and lewd activity. Because this number is a significant increase from the 2020-21 school year’s 71 reports, Board Member Kristen Hogan asked why there was such a large discrepancy in a short time frame.
Best attributed the change to better knowledge of what sexual harassment is and how to report it. With the launch of the district’s Harassment, Discrimination Reporting System (HDRS) and better education on what sexual harassment is, both students and administrators are better able to identify incidents and report them through the proper channels.
Following his presentation, Best presented the names of new members of the Healthy Lifestyles Curriculum Review Committee for board consideration. Appointed by administrators and unanimously approved by the board, Jodi Reid, Marcy Judd and Rebecca Davis will serve two-year terms and review materials and programs that include or address any aspect of human sexuality.
Board Members Approve Summit Review for January board meeting
At the March 7, 2023 board meeting, the board directed schools using the Summit Learning Platform to offer reasonable accommodations, including an on-site alternative, to students who wished to opt out of Summit classes.
Following the board’s instruction, schools worked with the district’s online school, Davis Connect, to offer alternate classes to those students and surveyed parents to identify common complaints about the Summit Platform.
For the 2023-24 school year, each school now offers an on-site alternative through Davis Connect and has implemented site-based improvements based on parent feedback, including piloting semesters in certain schools, additional parent training, adding in due dates, increased alignment of PFAs with course content and more frequent grading updates.
In light of the changes, Board Member Kristen Hogan proposed a motion to follow-up on the updates. The motion requested the Summit schools present to the board in December information related to the on-site Davis Connect alternative as well as the implementation of site-based improvements.
During discussion related to the motion, board Members John Robison, Brigit Gerrard, Liz Mumford and Kristen Hogan expressed hesitation to the motion, wanting to allow schools to let their proposed changes take affect and give enough time for evaluation, as well as citing concerns about the timeline and the potential of board overreach.
Robison and Gerrard also shared concerns that passing the resolution would be overly reactive as there are only 26 students who have elected to use the on-site alternative through Davis Connect out of more than 7,000 students enrolled in Summit Schools and given the option.
To address board member concerns, Mumford motioned to amend the original motion with a substitution to have administrators present the board with the effectiveness of their school’s Summit accommodations and changes at the end of the semester, including feedback from stakeholders at the January 2024 board workshop.
The substitute motion passed 5-2, meaning the board will hear the administrative presentations in January.