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School Board Learns About Social Media
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A presentation about student rights, free speech, and social media responsibility was an educational topic for the Oakdale Joint Unified School District Board of Trustees at their regular meeting on Dec. 9.

Attorney Chesley Quaide of Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud and Romo presented to the board about student records in regards to complying with Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), and social media responsibility California’s education code and the state constitution’s legal requirements. He briefly reviewed what counts as student records. There was also some talk about how student disciplinary actions are to remain private and cannot be shared with other parties. In his review of student internet postings and free speech, Quaide noted that California has additional laws protecting people’s free speech rights over and above federal law. He said that for the school or district to become involved in discipline or prohibition of speech regarding student involvement in social media issues especially if done off campus, there has to be actual “substantial disruption” to the orderly operation of school or to a student’s educational experience. He reviewed what some of those instances do or do not look like; i.e. what’s protected as free speech and what isn’t. He also noted that it’s been shown that middle school age girls are the biggest perpetrators of posting “snarky” remarks on the internet. In Quaide’s written report, there were several court case examples of social media issues involving students for reference, as well as education code guidelines. He said that if anyone has questions, they can contact the district administration, which can then forward those questions on to him.

Also in reports, Assistant Superintendent Larry Mendonca talked in detail about the Air Quality Flag Program used by the district, its effectiveness, and how school site administrators may also exercise discretion in instances such as heavy smoke from a nearby fire or excessive nut harvest dust and change the air quality flag to an unhealthy color level and keep students indoors.

In business, recently elected trustees Mike House, Diane Gilbert, and Barbara Shook were sworn in for their office by trustee Mike Tozzi. They will serve four-year terms that will expire Nov. 30, 2017. Gilbert was then appointed as board president, trustee Tina Shatswell was appointed board clerk, and Tozzi was appointed board representative to the Stanislaus County committee on school district organization.

In consent items, Armida Colón, the district’s Director of Categorical Programs, was given a change of job title to reflect the state’s disposal of the categorical program structure. Colón’s new title is now Director of State and Federal Programs. There is no cost to the district for the title change.

Also in consent items, Dan Casey, the district’s Director of Maintenance and Operations, was given an interim appointment to Director of Maintenance, Operations, and Transportation, effective Jan. 1, 2014. The district’s current Director of Transportation Don Barkley is retiring, effective Dec. 30, 2013.

In other business, the board approved the submission of final draft construction plans to the city and the county for the district’s new $1.1 million central kitchen project. Trustee Shatswell recused herself from the board vote. The board also unanimously approved the submission of plans to the Department of State Architect’s office to move the relocatable classrooms from Cloverland Elementary School’s approved Multi-Purpose Room site to elsewhere on campus.

The board approved the first interim report and the positive certification for fiscal year 2013-2014 that the district will be able to meet its financial obligations. Chief Business Officer Susan Dyke reported that the revenue for the general fund has increased from budget adoption by over $2.23 million, largely due to Local Control Funding Formula gap funding, one-time Common Core grant money, and the first year of Prop. 39 clean energy grant funds. Expenditures increased from adoption by over $2.26 million, mostly tied to restricted carry-over revenues and fund balance.

In organization reports, Oakdale Teachers Association president Linda Kraus reported that the OTA’s executive board voted to ratify the tentative agreement with the district. She said information will be provided to members on Dec. 11-12, and a membership ratification vote will be on Dec. 16-17, with the votes counted on Dec. 17. Kraus also reported that OTA was in the process of gathering school supplies and literature books for Sonora Elementary School, which recently sustained major damage from a fire. The donations will be delivered on Dec. 13. California School Employees Association Chapter #830 president Mark Mutoza also reported that his group reached a tentative agreement with the district and the ratification meeting will be held next Wednesday.

Near the start of the meeting, Oakdale Educational Foundation board member Frank Clark presented board president Gilbert with a $110,000 check for the school district. He noted that some of the money also came from the Support Our Schools group, which has raised about $40,000 in the past five years at its fun run. He said that to date, OEF has raised more than $700,000 for Oakdale schools. Clark said OEF awards grants for use in the classroom to teachers in the district who have innovative ideas that will have an impact on the most number of students. The superintendent also vets the grant applications to see that they fit with required curriculum. OEF grants will be awarded during a ceremony for teachers on Dec. 11.

The next regular meeting of the OJUSD Board of Trustees will be at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 in the Oakdale City Council Chambers, 277 N. Second.