The Nebo School District has approved some minor changes and clarifications in its controversial citizenship policy.
School board members approved shortening the makeup class from five to four hours and lowering the registration fee from $15 to $10. They also agreed to lessen the alternative, an approved service project, from 10 hours of work to eight hours. The changes are effective for U's earned this school year.The year-old policy allows students to be tardy or absent without an excuse 10 percent of the time. After that, teachers give the student a U - for unsatisfactory - citizenship grade for the term.
Students also are awarded citizenship grades by the school administration. Principals may give a U for vandalism, illegal use of controlled substances or other behavior deemed disruptive of the school.
Students with more than two U's are barred from graduation or advancement to the next grade. They also cannot participate in extracurricular activities.
Students may clear U's from their records by winning an appeal, completing a makeup class with a $10 registration fee or completing eight hours of approved community service.
"Our intent has always been to help students do better in school," Dean Allan, director of secondary education, said in school board meeting Wednesday night. Allan said test scores are up since the policy has been in place.
"It does help to be in class."
The policy had been criticized by some teachers and students. About 60 angry parents and students took over the board's meeting last month after picketing the district headquarters.
Nebo officials seemed braced for another confrontation, but members of the parent group did not attend the meeting.
Allan said school administrators had met recently and suggested six guidelines to help teachers administer the policy more fairly:
-Teachers should take attendance themselves, because a student taking the roll could use the opportunity to help a friend or hurt an enemy.
-Teachers also should discuss class rules with students, and explain how U's are given and can be cleared.
-Teachers should counsel students when they see problems developing.
-Teachers should contact parents when problems began and give them progress reports.
-All infractions should be carefully documented. Allan said such documentation would be needed if a case did go to court.
-When efforts to correct problems with students are not successful, teachers should alert administrators.
Allan said the citizenship policy still had a few bugs, and there had been some abuses - mostly by teachers who did not understand the policy.
One bug was discovered at the meeting. Some principals believe students absent more than 10 percent of the time were supposed to get U's regardless of whether the absences were excused. Others believed only unexcused absences could contribute to a U.
The school board agreed with the second group and asked officials to clarify the wording of the policy before the next meeting.