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Handbook Analysis EDL 276

Student and Staff Handbook Analysis

FBLA

Kelly A. Kretschmer

Drake University: EDL 276

March 30, 2016

Handbook Analysis EDL 276


Actively participating in EDL 276 has made me aware of the impact that each legal issue
has on an administrator. The importance of knowing the legal background to how a school
functions is paramount when dealing with a number of issues including discipline, transgender
student rights, and staff dress code. The importance of these issues keep the students, staff, and
building a safe and productive learning environment. It is up to the administrator to set the tone
and standard for student and staff expectations. These regulations all stem from student and staff
handbooks that delineate the expectations and procedures for students during the curricular day
and extra-curricular hours.
As a future administrator, it has become my job to stay up to date with key people and
legality issues in the education field. Listening to Matt Carvers presentation gave me a new
understanding of an administrators in legal situations along with the important resources that are
available to administrators. Utilizing SAI, School Administrators of Iowa, and services like it,
will become great resources as I lead a building of staff and students.
A handbook, either for staff or students, must be explicit in its content. There are clear
and guidelines and procedures that must be followed to ensure staff, student, and even
community safety. I have begun to think of the staff and student handbooks as a type of Bible to
an administrator. Every decision you make amongst staff and students must tie back to its legal
action (or lack of action) to cover all bases when dealing with issues. Be it student dress code,
state policy of a teacher running for public office, or the use of bathroom facilities of transgender
students, there must be a correlation to the handbook and its reliability to back up your decisions.
The writing and re-writing of new or existing student and staff handbooks must become
of the utmost importance to a new administrator of a district. You, as the leader, must be well
versed in the expectations set for students and staff and be able to abide by them. After analyzing
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Handbook Analysis EDL 276


two handbooks I have found that there are topics on either side of the coin. There are many
issues that are fully realized with links to the Iowa Code and National Laws. There are other
issues, or topics, that need multiple revisions to be fully effective in a school community.

Discipline
One of the issues most pressing to an administrator, especially in a smaller district where
the administrator might play multiple roles such as Principal, Vice Principal, Dean of Students,
and Athletic Director, the handbook must contain strict policies around discipline. The East High
School Handbook clearly identifies and lays out the expectations and guidelines when dealing
with discipline.
The East High Handbook clearly lays out the expectations placed on students during the
school day. There are parameters around student actions and labels for each offense. It goes on to
reference what happens at each level of offense and what the next steps are. There is also
inclusion of guardian expectations. Finally, it defines terms that might accompany disciplinary
action being taken, such as possession and expulsion. These are important terms to explicitly
include in discipline policies such as the Alternate Educational Placement options for students
regarding discipline. There is evidence of a students right to due process per the 14th
Amendment (Essex, 2016).
I would not make changes to the discipline policy as it aligns properly with Iowa Code,
the United States Constitution and its Amendments. The guidelines for students and their
guardians are clearly laid out and

Transgender Students

Handbook Analysis EDL 276


One of the most talked about topics in todays legal system is the issue of an individuals
rights based on the gender they may identify with, not the gender they were born with. This issue
has opened the door for a number of cases ranging from students being called by their courtordered name change or not being permitted to use the restrooms for their chosen gender
(Student v. Arcadia Unified School District, 2013). In the legal system this is an issue that is
gaining speed and momentum in a time of change. I will step out on a limb and say it will be a
part of all public school handbooks, with specificity, in the next 10 years.
The East High Handbook covers bullying, harassment and discrimination regarding all
students and staff including definitions, complaint procedures, and no retaliation policies. There
is reference made to include sexual orientation and gender identity under the discrimination
heading. It is included, but the individuals rights are not directly defined. It opens questions such
as locker room and restroom use, student trips that include hotel stays, and daily discrimination.
In 2014 the rights of transgender people were upheld under Title IX, which prohibits
discrimination. That meant that each educational institution must find accommodations for
transgender students. However, accommodations are not explicit and are to be upheld by each
school district at their discretion. This tells me that each school district will have to adopt
policies, in alignment with Iowa Code and any Amendments made, to include accommodations
for these students in both academic and extra-curricular activities. The Iowa High School
Athletic Association has already adopted a transgender statement. Iowa Code section 216.9,
makes it illegal for any educational institution to discriminate in any program or activity on the
basis of gender identity (Fraioli, n.d.)

Handbook Analysis EDL 276


There is currently a Bill that is waiting to be signed into law in South Dakota that
mandates students use the restroom that corresponds with their biological sex. This will certainly
open the door for discrimination and questions are explicit law for transgender students.

Staff Dress Code


In the students handbook I would like to see the alignment of transgender rights in the
under the section that includes bullying, harassment, and discrimination. As there is not
additional ruling on other definitive inclusion of transgender students, the handbook will operate
as it currently does aligning with basic discrimination policies.
The final issue Ive chosen to look into is the dress code policy for adults. After reading
through the policy in the Carlisle Middle School Staff Handbook (Carlisle Middle School Staff
Handbook, 2016), Ive found that the section needs a great deal of clarification. The handbook
discussed staff dress code simply states that professionally. Dressing professionally is not an
appropriate term to delineate attire. In the times we live in there need to be more specific
parameters on the expectations for attire. After looking through various school districts dress
codes, I have found that they range from looking similar to Carlisles to the strictest regulations
on piercings, shoe type, and hemline. I would like write a policy that is in between those
extremes. It would include many aspects of the Litchfield Elementary School Districts Policies
(Staff Dress Code, 2016), including: no visible cleavage, no visible undergarments, clothes not worn
too tight, too loose, or transparent, exercise pants, sweatpants, sweat shirts, shorts, or other athletic
clothing should not be worn unless teaching Physical Education, or supervising specific physical
education related activities such as Turkey Trots, Field Days, etc., and mens shirts should have a collar,
unless school spirit shirt or where shirt can be deemed professional by other standards (for example,
crewneck sweaters).
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Handbook Analysis EDL 276


As it states in the Essex text, there are varying degrees of professional dress, which also
include factors such as community standards and mores. A point to keep in mind is that each
building level (elementary, middle, high) would have differentiation on attire based on the
subjects and needs taught. The expectations of dress for a physical education teacher will differ
from a 3rd grade teacher. There will also be different expectations from the 3rd grade teacher to a
high school educator teaching chemistry or algebra.
There are still frequent cases that occur where dress codes are challenged. The belief lies
in the fact that all we would hope all staff members would dress in appropriate attire at all times.
The appearance of staff members should be one that does not distract from the learning and is
comfortable for the educator. The administrator must determine what is acceptable and convey it
clearly to all staff members in places such as the staff handbook and everyday dress.
The activity of delving into district handbooks has opened my eyes to the successes and
shortcomings of what is already in place. There are varying degrees of depth in handbooks, but
what Ive discovered is that the majority of the issues our students face are covered in the
handbook, just not always laid out clearly. Whether its in the schools individual handbook, the
district handbook, or digging into State law, there is clarity among a number of student issues
that must be made clear in the handbooks. Students come to us with the expectations of safety,
order, to learn to their best ability. With set policies to ensure students rights, and having them
clearly set in front of the students, an administrator can back every decision to the handbook and
its policies.

Handbook Analysis EDL 276

References
Carlisle Middle School Staff Handbook. (2016, March 24). Retrieved from
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1nX3ClceXTn_gqUefZ1SRW2PHg2OksxB
yDdOK
District, D. M. (2016). East High School Student Handbook . Retrieved from Des
Moines Public Schools: http://eceast.dmschools.org/site_res_view_folder.aspx?
id=12c85128-2c0b-431b-aa9b-4933965308fa
Essex, N. L. (2016). School Law and the Public Schools: A Practical Guide for
Educational Leaders. New York: Pearson Education, Inc.
Fraioli, J. (n.d.). Transgender in Iowa: Know Your Rights. Retrieved from ACLU-IA:
http://www.aclu-ia.org/iowa/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/3-26-Iowa-transrights-booklet-pdf-with-links.pdf
Staff Dress Code. (2016). Retrieved from Lakewood Public School District :
http://www.lakewoodpiners.org/cms/lib01/NJ01001845/Centricity/Domain/4/St
aff%20Dress%20Code%20Policy.pdf
Staff Dress Code. (2016). Retrieved from Litchfield Elementary School District :
http://www.lesd.k12.az.us/lesdstaff.cfm?subpage=1525161
Student v. Arcadia Unified School District, 09-12-1020 (U.S. Department of Justice,
Civil Rights Division July 24, 2013).