BoardNotes: August 2020

Highlights from the Caroline Board of Education Meeting

Caroline County Board of Education meetings may be viewed live or after the fact on the district's Vimeo page.

Health Officer Welcomed

The Board welcomed Mr. Roger L. Harrell, MHA. Acting Health Officer for Caroline County. Mr. Harrell discussed the role of the health department in providing consultation and guidance to the superintendent. The Board asked Mr. Harrell about various topics such as face masks, testing for COVID-19, and reopening phases in the Recovery Plan. Mr. Harrell said he would continue to build upon the partnership between CCPS and CCHD, and provide the best information possible so the Board can make the best decisions for children and families in Caroline County.


Personnel with Addendum

Supervisor of Human Resources Debbie Siachos presented personnel items to the board for their approval.

Ms. Siachos also provided the Board a hiring update for the 2020-2021 school year.

Textbook Adoption

Renee Hesson, Supervisor of Instruction, presented the print and digital series and resources for My Perspectives, a textbook for middle school English Language Arts. Ms. Hesson reviewed the process for textbook adoption and shared committee review feedback.

The Board approved the Consent Agenda.


Recovery Plan Summary

The Board approved the Back to School Recovery Plan Summary for the 2020-2021 school year, as presented by Superintendent Patty Saelens. Dr. Saelens explained that the summary plan is being shared at this time in order to provide employees and families basic information as early as possible. The final plan is required to be posted on the website and submitted to the Maryland State Department of Education by August 14.

Administrative Appointments

The Board approved the administrative appointment of Carissa C. Hollinger: Coordinator of Special Education, effective July 1, 2020. Dr. Saelens shared that Ms. Hollinger was playing a huge role in the Recovery Plan work going on this summer, and was a great asset to the Special Programs team.

2020-2021 School Calendar Amended

The Board amended the 2020-2021 school year calendar to reflect the following changes:

  • First day for new teachers – August 24
  • First day for returning teachers – August 27
  • First day of school (distance learning) for students – September 8

In making the recommendation to amend the calendar, Superintendent Patty Saelens explained that staff would be using the added time to prepare for distance learning, particularly in the areas of professional development and technology distribution.

2020-2021 Amended School Calendar

Attendance Policy Revision

The Board approved revisions to the Attendance Policy to more accurately reflect conditions associated with distance learning. Definitions were refined to meet state reporting requirements, and revisions made to remove the loss of grade/loss of credit penalty as it relates to absenteeism. CCPS will continue to use a system of interventions for those students who need to improve their attendance.

Student Behavior Interventions Policy

The Board approved revisions to the Student Behavior Interventions Policy. The Maryland State Department of Education approved revisions to COMAR 13A.08.04 with regard to restraint and seclusion. This in turn necessitated local policy revisions, which include: clarification of the definitions of restraint and seclusion, contraindications for restraint and seclusion, authorization for restraint, as well as professional development requirements.


Board Member, Superintendent, and Director Reports

Reports were deferred until the September meeting, given that most information was covered in the Recovery Plan Summary Presentation.


Because the board meeting was virtual, citizens were invited to submit public comment via email at Six emails were received, shared with the Board and Superintendent, and read outloud during the meeting by the Public Information Officer.

  • Rhiannon Burkett wrote about the need to support teachers who are also parents.
  • Meg DePasquale wrote regarding grading during the 2019-2020 4th quarter.
  • Jennifer Godwin wrote on the topic of students needing to return to school.
  • Lori & Steve Moody wrote with concerns and questions about distance learning.
  • Eric Nepert wrote regarding the order in which students are prioritized for returning to the school building.
  • Laura Roe wrote concerning connectivity issues and schedule challenges for working parents.