Amidst all the uncertainty for schools wrought by the novel coronavirus pandemic, it looks like Stoughton Area School District students and teachers will have a few less things to worry about.
At its Monday, April 6 meeting, following three brief public hearings, the school board approved a resolution asking the state Department of Public Instruction to waive some of the legislative requirements tied to the school year, due to the school closure orders. The decision on instruction hours, a required civics exam for graduating seniors and educator effectiveness evaluations now heads to DPI, which last month signaled it will approve all waiver requests from districts.
Board president Frank Sullivan said while the district might end up meeting the required number of instructional hours, the move provides a backup.
“We concluded the best thing to do was to ask DPI for the waiver, do the best we can at providing instruction for our students,” he said. “If we hit the numbers, that’s great; if we don’t, then we’re covered.”
Last month, DPI signaled it will approve requests from all school districts for waivers, provided they hold a public hearing and approve the waivers first.
State law requires each public school district to evaluate all licensed school personnel in their “first year of employment and, at least, every third year thereafter.” Sullivan said that’s logistically impossible for the time being.
“It’s also not particularly desirable at the moment, when we are asking our staff to do things they have never done before with no notice and no preparation,” he said. “Right now, all their focus needs to be on the students and how we’re going to get instruction delivered.”
The civics exam, essentially the U.S. Citizenship test, is required for high schoolers to receive their diploma.
Sullivan said most students take the test during their junior year, but not everyone passes it.
“We wanted to make sure that nobody was prevented from graduating because they didn’t pass the civics exam,” he said.