Devine School Board addresses cyberbullying, revises Class Ranking system

With much attention on the effects of Cyberbullying on children, the Texas Legislature took action to address it in our schools.
At the August 21st School Board meeting, DISD Director of Student Services, Dawn Schneider, reported on the changes in the Student Handbook and Code of Conduct, which will also address & clarify wording as per bills passed by the Legislature in dealing with cyberbullying procedures and other issues:
“SB 179, also known as “David’s Law”, brings cyberbullying into the bullying definition. David’s law, named after David Molak, a 16 year-old boy who committed suicide after relentless cyberbullying, was created in an effort to punish such reprehensible actions. Through this law, school districts are developing ways for anonymous reporting of bullying. The law also gives school the authority to investigate bullying off campus if it substantially affects the orderly operations of school or school related activities. Schools will also have greater latitude to place students in a disciplinary alternative education campus for certain serious bullying behavior.”
“Cyberbullying will be classified as a Class B misdemeanor beginning September 1, 2017. However, the offense becomes a Class A misdemeanor, if the offender has been previously convicted of cyberbullying or if the bullying was done to a victim under 18 years-old with the intent that the minor commit suicide or self-inflict serious injury to themselves. A Class B misdemeanor is punishable by a fine not to exceed $2,000 and confinement in jail for a term not to exceed 180 days. A Class A misdemeanor is punishable by a fine not to exceed $4,000 and confinement in jail for a term not to exceed one year.”
In other issues: “HB 374 Prohibits districts from placing a student below 3rd grade in out-of-school suspension except in certain situations.” (Handbooks) –“HB 928, HB 2537 and SB 490 all talk about assistance for foster care students in their college application process. Schools will help these students with college and financial aid applications; assist in researching scholarships, and assist in registering for college entrance exams.”
The DISD Student Handbook, and the district Code of Conduct will be available online on the Devine ISD website and can also be accessed at the DISD Administration office. Mrs. Schneider also gave a preliminary report of the district’s Accountability Ratings that just came in and will give a more detailed report at the next regular Board meeting in September.
Science Wing renovation
If you have been driving past Devine High this summer, you have definitely noticed the ongoing renovation of the Science Wing walls on HWY 173. The construction will be completed by the end of this week in time for the first day of school at DHS! Superintendent Scott Stostarich updated the board on current construction projects on all campuses, including the completion of the High School Science wing and campus roofing projects that are all scheduled to be completed this week. “Everything will be in order for the starting of school next week,” stated Sostarich. The roofs of the concession stands at the football field still need to be done, but will not affect the starting of school.
Class Ranking revision
The Trustees also approved several action items, including a revision of the Academic Achievement: Class Ranking for DHS students. This revision will affect the class rankings of all DHS students. Some of the highlights of the revisions included: increase AP class points from 5 to 8; add 5 points for Pre-AP classes; taking the AP exam will result in 4 points, with no minimum score required; an additional 4 points for scoring 50 or above of CLEP exam for Pre-AP students; and early graduates will not be eligible for valedictorian or salutatorian honors.
HB 21
State News: With all the interest in the public education bills to be considered during the Special Session of the Texas Legislature, Mr. Sostarich explained that even though HB 21 put money into the Teacher Retirement System fund, “not much happened to help the public education for schools our size”. He also said that there is speculation of another Special Session.
Even though Monday had most people’s attention on the Eclipse, the Devine ISD Board of Trustees dealt with ‘business as usual’ at their regular monthly meeting on August 21, 2017. Board member, Nancy Pepper, opened the meeting in regular fashion with the US Pledge and Invocation before getting to the first agenda of the new 2017-18 school year. Board members in attendance were: Pepper, Robert Morales, Henry Moreno, Carl Brown, and Wes Herring. Wayde Anderson was absent.
The next DISD School Board Meeting is scheduled for Monday, September 18, 2017 at 6:30pm at the Devine ISD Administration building at 605 W. Hondo Ave., Devine, Texas.
By Nancy Saathoff