As COVID-19 has upended the district’s operations, it will ask the state Department of Public Instruction to waive some of the legislative requirements tied to the school year.
The school board unanimously approved the resolution asking the state to grant the district waivers for requirements such as instruction hours, the civics exam for graduating seniors and educator effectiveness evaluations.
DPI has signaled that it will approve requests from all school districts for waivers – school boards just need to hold a public hearing and approve the waivers first before they can be submitted to the state.
District director of curriculum and instruction Ann Franke said due to the abrupt closing of schools, a dozen seniors will have unequal access to technology to complete the civics exam requirement.
“We know that we’re a one-to-one district, we know that students have iPads, but we cannot guarantee that students have sufficient Wi-Fi access, we can’t guarantee students are accessing that technology,” she said. “We really feel, because we’re trying to remove as many barriers away as possible to our students, that for those 12 students, this is just one more opportunity to get them to graduation.”
Franke said that staff evaluations for educator effectiveness, done in the classroom every three years, can’t be completed while teachers are educating through virtual learning.
“Because our staff and administrators are under a lot of stress right now in the virtual learning environment, this is one thing we can take off their plate for them, to not have to worry about,” Franke said. “It’s also really impossible in this environment to complete the cycle.”
Attorney Lori Lubinsky told the board that she’s confident the state will grant the waivers, since COVID-19 has made it a “no-brainer” to provide leniency to school districts who had no choice but to close.
“It literally is to effectuate the inability to comply with statutory requirements,” she said. “I anticipate no problems with DPI’s consent.”