Following concerns regarding the current student code of conduct, the Maury County Board of Education has addressed making changes to the policy.
Jeffrey Richey, Maury County Director of pupil services, spoke to the school board during the June 7 regular meeting regarding Policy 6.300 “Trauma Informed, Code of Behavior and Discipline.” The policy determines which disciplinary practices should be taken depending on the level of an offense.
The levels of offense range from 100-500, including zero tolerance offenses. Minor offenses include cutting class and cheating, while the most severe offenses include possession of a firearm and possession or use of drugs.
Richey said there has been some concern regarding the level 200 offense of inappropriate touching and its reference of teacher or student. Richey suggested moving the inappropriate physical contact with students or teachers to a 300 offense instead.
“Keep in mind, when we’re dealing with youngsters, K-12, everything’s a learning process,” he said. “What might be appropriate at the elementary level definitely cannot be appropriate at the high school level, and then when you throw in middle school that’s the transition period where minds are developing and there’s conflicting messages from social media and mainstream media.”
Board member Bettye Kinser, who represents District 2, agreed that she would like to see the inappropriate contact raised.
“I would like to see the inappropriate physical contact with students or staff be level three,” she said.
Richey also spoke on the confusion surrounding the definition of victimization.
“At the elementary level, some of those children have no idea what’s coming out of their mouth,” he said. “Things have to be looked at in a different way than a high school student.”
Board Chairman Michael Fulbright said he would like to see clarification on the definition of victimization. “If I hear that a student is being sexually harassed, that has quite a different connotation in my mind that just a verbal interaction,” he said.
District 5 member David Moore agreed that the policy needs tweaking.
“This policy is not written in stone,” he said. “We do not have to pull a chisel out and chisel it off and get a whole new slab. We can tweak this, and we need to tweak it because it’s not going to be perfect the first time.”
The board will meet for further discussion at the next work session.