New Hanover County Board of Education reinstates attendance policy, hears seclusion room update

New Hanover County Board of Education reinstates attendance policy, hears seclusion room update
Published: Jul. 12, 2022 at 10:36 PM EDT
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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Parents and concerned neighbors once again showed up in numbers at Tuesday night’s school board meeting, demanding the board to get rid of seclusion rooms.

Seclusion rooms are confined areas within the schools where children are placed when they are acting violent or displaying severe behavioral issues.

Many parents showed up at the meeting to voice their frustrations on how slowly the process is moving.

“Time after time, we have been out here,” said Love Our Children member Alicia Ogundele. “I’ve heard them speak on seclusions, but I see no movement on their half. So therefore, are they really listening to us? Are they just given us a time to just you know, vent?”

Each school in New Hanover County has until September to come up with a plan to combat behavioral issues, and eventually how they’ll do away with seclusion rooms.

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Julie Varnam says the board will review those plans at their October meeting, and also discuss further training staff to reduce using those seclusion rooms.

In the last 4 years, the use of seclusion and restraint has decreased dramatically in the county.

Though some parents think the process is moving too slow, Board Member Nelson Beaulieu says that these things take time.

“You can’t operate on a timeline when it comes to making sure that our educators and our administrative staff have all the tools that they need to make sure that every single student is safe,” he says. “You know, our students have all sorts of different needs, and we want to make sure that every single one of those is accounted for. And so that’s the pace at which we’re moving.”

The board also voted to reinstate the school system’s attendance policy now that the pandemic is slowing down.

If students miss more than 10 days, they are at risk of failing. Depending on the circumstance, students and parents can appeal those absences.

The board also voted to change their grading scale. If a student is failing, which is below a 50, they are required to be placed under academic contract. That contract will have necessary means to pass the course, and will be sent home with the student for a parent or guardian to sign.

The board will host their first Town Hall meeting on July 19th. The meeting will be open to the public, and will give parents and advocates a chance to have open dialogue with board members.

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