Policy, new rule impose stricter rules for school site visitors

The Scappoose School District has changed its districtwide visitors policy by eliminating a clause that allows visitors, parents or guests to visit a school facility at any time.

The policy update was finalized at a school board meeting Monday, March 13, by a 5-to-1 vote.

Board member Lisa Maloney was opposed. Angela Schillereff was absent.

Under the new board policy, visitors who would be interacting with students are required to be under the supervision of the school's principal or the principal's designee, and will not infringe on students' rights. Previously, guests were encouraged to stop by at any time and, after signing in at the office, were generally left to their own devices.

Superintendent Stephen Jupe introduced the policy change to the board a month ago in an effort to maintain the security and safety of students in the school district. His reasoning was that wording in the previous policy was confusing.

There have not been any security concerns with the district that prompted the policy change, he said.

Other board members, like Jim Hoag, saw the policy change as a way to keep parents from being a potential disruption in the classroom when students are trying to learn. Hoag explained that teachers should have the discretion to limit or restrict how many parents or volunteers are in their classrooms and how often they come in, so as not to disrupt the learning environment.

Other district staff also pointed out that the policy could help restrict access to students who are not supposed to have contact with an estranged parent or family member.

Maloney said, however, that the policy discourages transparency within the district and creates an image of parental non-involvement. She expressed concern about not being able to be in the classroom when something might be taught that could be seen as a controversial issue to a parent. Maloney said the district shouldn't push away parents who want to be involved and informed about what is going on in the classroom.

On Monday, Maloney suggested adding a section to the policy that would allow parents or community members to be in the classroom anytime a controversial subject is being taught, or an outside speaker is being brought in.

No other board members supported or endorsed the suggestion.

Jupe and other district staff developed an administrative rule, or AR, that outlines more details for how principals and staff could impose the district rules at each individual school site.

The administrative rule makes it clear that visitors, defined as "anyone who is not a student or an employee of the district," must make arrangements with staff prior to visiting a school site, and must not impede on the work of teachers or students.

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