The Harford County Board of Education plans an October 28th business meeting that includes a report on identified deficiencies in school safety and security. Other items on the agenda include revisions to Board policies on extra-curricular activities and clubs, and recognition for new inductees to the HCPS Educator Hall of Fame.
First on the agenda, Board members will recognize Mary Ellen Kennedy and Thomas Macklin Trafton as the newest inductees to the HCPS Educator Hall of Fame. According to the published agenda, Ms. Kennedy was a leader in transforming HCPS school libraries from book warehouses into modern media centers, and promoting a love of reading and literature in students. Mr. Trafton taught environmental science at Havre de Grace and Fallston high schools, where he also coached award-winning Envirothon, softball, and soccer teams.
Next, the Board will hear a presentation on Project Lead the Way (PLTW), a non-profit organization that promotes engineering, technology and biomedical science coursework for middle and high school students. The Board will also recognize Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) for providing start-up funds to implement PLTW pre-engineering programs at Havre de Grace, Southampton, Edgewood, and North Harford middle schools. A fifth program site at Bel Air Middle School is set to begin during the 2014-2015 school year.
On the consent agenda, Board members will approve contract awards for on-call asbestos removal and services to A&I, Inc. of Rosedale, and Goel Services, Inc. of Washington, D.C. The award recommendations are based on a competitive bid process for hourly labor rates. The rates established in the winning bids are estimated not to exceed $250,000 per year. The contracts also include a renewal option.
Also on the consent agenda, Board members will accept a report from the Benefits Advisory Committee, which makes recommendations to the Board regarding employee benefits. The published report reviews committee activities and recommendations from the years 2011 to 2013.
Under old business, the Board plans to vote on proposed revisions to its policies on extra-curricular activities and clubs. The latest revisions roll back an earlier plan to ban activities such as meetings, practices and celebrations in private residences. The reversal was apparently in response to public input received since the ban was first proposed in late July. The newly revised policies restrict actions by HCPS coaches and supervisors as follows: “HCPS coaches or supervisors may not plan, sanction or supervise a team or organization activity which occurs at a private residence or property, including the private residences or property of coaches or supervisors.”
Under new business, the Citizen Advisory Committee on Safety and Security will present its annual report to the Board. According to the published report, a HCPS survey of schools in the 2012-13 school year found that 61% failed to keep a current list of sexual offenders; 41% propped open school doors, and 22% failed to lock classroom doors. In accordance with committee recommendations, all schools were advised in April that doors should never be propped open and all classroom doors should be locked throughout the day. Schools were also reminded earlier this school year that sex offender lists should be updated monthly. The committee report also recommends a review of this year’s survey to determine if schools have corrected the above deficiencies, along with on-site school visits to track compliance.
The survey also found that all HCPS schools conducted evacuation drills last year, with 48% conducting optional lockdown drills. The Maryland State Department will require all schools to conduct lockdown drills starting next year, according to the committee report.
The committee also reviewed classroom visitation procedures for American Education Week (AEW), concluding in its report that “the standing policy of open, unvetted (screening) access to all schools during AEW posed a security risk to the health and welfare of students, school faculty and staff, and visitors.” Recommending limited public access during the week, the report provides the following rationale:
”Any risks can be greatly reduced if the persons visiting the school are known to faculty and staff or have at least been vetted in some degree to ensure their “need” to observe a particular student. Any requirement to open a particular school to visitors for the purpose of observing the facility should be coordinated with the school administration to occur after-school hours when students are not present.
Allowing unfettered access to public school children does not make sense in today’s social environment where acts of violence at schools by non-students is a fact of life. The event is publically announced via print media, Internet, television, and radio. AEW takes place during the month of November during periods where inclement weather (e.g., cold, rain, snow) are present, and normal attire is typically large jackets or coats. School administrators will not be able to physically inspect visitors for the presence of weapons, illegal substances, or property upon entering or leaving the school.
The Committee recommended access to schools during AEW should be limited to a designated time each day to minimize the disruption to class schedules. Each school’s principal should naturally have the authority to make exceptions based on individual case-by-case requests; however, these should be the exception rather than the norm. Unsupervised students should not be allowed to greet visitors. All visitors should be issued the respective school visitor identification.”
Incorporating many of the committee’s recommendations, Interim Superintendent Barbara Canavan has announced new security measures for American Education Week, which begins this year on November 18th.
Finally, following a study of the effectiveness of walk-through metal detectors, the committee report does not recommend the devices in HCPS.
As usual, the meeting will conclude with the superintendent’s report, provided on Monday by Interim Superintendent Canavan.
The October 28th meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the A.A. Roberty Building in Bel Air. The public comment period is set for 7:00 p.m. Below is the published meeting agenda. Please note that published agendas are subject to change.
Monday, October 28, 2013
Board Open Session – 5:25 PM – Board Room
Board Closed Session – 5:30 PM – Board Executive Conference Room
Board Business Meeting – 6:30 PM – Board Room
*Times are approximate
Call to Order – Mrs. Nancy Reynolds, President
Quorum Roll Call
Adoption of Agenda
Pledge of Allegiance
6:35 PM Recognition: Hall of Fame Inductions (Goal 2)
1. Mary Ellen Kennedy
2 Thomas Macklin Trafton
7:00 PM Public Comment
7:15 PM Board Committee Reports and Comments
7:30 PM A. Consent Agenda:
1) Monthly Report on Personnel (Goal 3)
2) Approval of October 14 2013 Board Business Meeting Minutes (Goals 1 – 4)
4) Resolutions (Goal 2)
– National Educational Support Professional Day
– American Education Week
– Impact Area Aid Assistance
– American Patriotism in Harford County Public Schools
– National Family Week
5) Benefits Advisory Committee Report (Goal 3)
7:35 PM B. Decision on HCPS Board Policies, Patrick P. Spicer, Esquire (Goals 1-4)
– Clubs (06-0010-000)
– Curricular and Extracurricular Activities (06-0007-000)
7:45 PM C. Presentation on Board of Education Citizen Advisory Committee: Safety and Security, Mr. Robert A. Bendetto (Goal 4)
8:05 PM D. Superintendent’s Report
8:15 PM Future Meetings Review