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Lebanon School District adopts 'sexting' policy

Written by John Latimer, Lebanon Daily News | Mar 22, 2016 3:52 PM
cellphone_texting.jpg

(Lebanon) -- The Lebanon school board Monday night adopted changes to policies that wouldn't even have been considered a generation ago.

The policies addressing sexting, terroristic acts, child abuse and child pornography were amended with stronger definitions and other modifications in language by the school board Monday night to adhere to Pennsylvania Department of Education directives made to comply with the Legislature's tightening of Child Endangerment laws, and not to any activity in the district said Superintendent Marianne Bartley.

"Basically it is rooted in state law, the different changes that we've been faced with in the past six to eight months. Just little things that we had to do to update our language," she said.

Most of the policies were already on the books, Bartley added, but one that was not was "Sexting," a relatively new phenomenon with the advent of cellphones, which is defined in the district's policy as the "sending, sharing, viewing or merely possessing of sexually explicit digital pictures, messages, text messages emails or other material of a sexual nature in electronic form."

The sexting policy guidelines place students and their parents on notice that school officials can search a student's cell phone, computer or other electronic device if they suspect sexting activity, and will turn the device over to law enforcement authorities.

"So what impact does it have you might wonder?" Bartley said after the board meeting. "I see in our student handbooks just tweaking the language a little bit for the kids. We actually use the word 'sexting' and state that is not appropriate. It is all rooted in law. I wasn't looking for changes in these policies. We are just making sure our policies fit in changes that have come our way."

In other business Monday night, the board adopted a letter of agreement with the City of Lebanon to keep $1.13 million in reserve to pay for utility and other public improvements associated with the construction of a new Northwest Elementary School in the Aspens Building Park.

The letter serves the same purpose as a performance bond but saves the district from the expense of acquiring one, Bartley said. Should the project not go forward the district will be exempt from the pledge.

"This saves us a lot of money if, in fact, things end up working out and there is a state budget," she said.

The board also accepted the retirement of Lebanon High School Assistant Principal Gary Zelinske, whose last day of work after 41 years with the district will be on June 30.

"A hardy thank you to Gary," said board President Peter Pyles. "He will be retiring. We will certainly miss him. And there are some big shoes to fill once again."

Also Monday night the board approved:

  • Filing for an E-rate Form 471 grant to upgrade the district's internal digital connections. The project cost from Dauphin Datacom is $107,000 with the district match being 15 percent or $16,050.
  • Filing for an E-rate Form 471 grant to upgrade the district's digital switching connections. The project cost from Eplus Technology is $506,000 with the district match being 15 percent or $75,903.
  • Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13's Core Program of Services budget for 2016-17 in the amount of $1.6 million and the Instructional Media Services budget for $815,550. Both budgets are identical to what the district is paying the IU this year.
  • Summer school programs at Southeast and Harding elementary schools from June 20 to July 28.
  • A summer school program at Lebanon Middle School from June 13 to June 30.
  • A four-day-a-week summer school program at Lebanon High School from June 13 to June 23 and July 11 to July 28.
  • A migrant education program to be conducted by Lincoln Intermediate Unit 12 at Southeast Elementary School from July 11 to July 28.
  • Extended school year program to be run by the Special Education Department for Life Skills and Learning Support students and Autistic Support students at Lebanon High School from June 27 to July 28.

The school board will be holding a special budget work session meeting that is open to the public starting at 5:30 p.m. on March 28 in the district board room at Lebanon High School, 1000 S. Eighth St.

Published in Lebanon, News

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