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Dedham Selectmen Halt School's Conduct Agreement with Cops

A sub-committee will evaluate the current proposal and weigh changes.

 

Dedham selectmen delayed a vote on a Memorandum of Understanding between the police and school departments that calls for, among other things, police to notify school officials of incidents involving students over the summer.

A current policy holds students accountable for actions only between September and June.

The School Committee on March 21 in a 4-3 vote. It cleared the policy sub-committee with a 3-0 vote before that, but since has met pushback from parents.

On Thursday, selectmen joined the contingent to decry parts of the agreement.

School Committee member Mayanne Briggs, who also serves on the policy sub-committee, said a driving force for switching to a 52-week enforcement is the growing trend of cyberbullying.

In December 2010, Dedham became one of the first towns to  that included langauge prohibiting bullying on the Internet, as mandated by a state law.

"It's clearly spelled out, what are the offenses and what are the consequences," Doe said. 

Doe added that not many other high schools in Massachusetts have a 52-week enforcement.

The current Memorandum of Understanding, implemented in 2004, punishes students for being in the presence of alcohol or drugs with up to two weeks suspension from extracurricular activities.

The proposed agreement would provide an educational lesson to students caught, on a first offense, in the presence of alochol or drugs - and not suspend them from activities.

That, along with the 52-week enforcement, are the two major changes between the current 2004 document and the proposed policy. It would also include students at , whereas the current agreement only applies to high school students.

But, selectmen Carmen Dello Iacono and Paul Reynolds both signaled that they believed the school policy overreached and attempted to wrest control away from parents.

"What message are we sending our kids?" said Reynolds, who said they need to be careful not to mix the "two buckets" of parenting and education.

Doe could not provide selectmen with the number of times this year that school officials have had to use the MOU policy to punish a student. She told them that it was less than 100, but more than once.

Board of Selectmen chair Jim MacDonald moved to create a sub-committee made up of Dello Iacono, Reynolds, two members from the school committee and at least Police Chief Michael d'Entremont.

"The policy right now needs to be fixed," MacDonald said.

The sub-committee will take public input and present it in a public hearing before the two boards take it up for a vote, MacDonald promised.

The group's goal is to iron out a compromise between now and mid-June when school ends.

"It's a complex issue. It is worth taking a second look," Reynolds said.

Roy April 23, 2012 at 12:49 PM
Where's there's smoke... If your or any kid is caught in the presence of illegal doings, there is probably some guilt. It's not Russia, it's the law.
Dan O'Neil April 23, 2012 at 01:00 PM
I agree with Steve. I'm all for the teachers and or the principal making a report and asking the authorities to follow up, but educators should not be acting as a legal body. Let the police look into what is reported and let them determine what action if necessary should be taken. I don't know how many times players have been at parties where alcohol is served and let me tell you not all of them drink, we were all young once and have been there and done that, but because they are there they get a team suspension even though all they were doing was hanging out and there was no wrong doing on there end. They don't get those games back and it isn't right. This is why teachers teach and cops bust bad guys. If there is so much concern about this have an officer on site then or allow an auxillary officer on the grounds that can step in when an issue occurs.
steve April 23, 2012 at 02:25 PM
The law is innocent until proven guilty.if you get a speeding ticket are you allowed to fight that ticket in court. I'm just saying there are a lot of boundries being over stepped. If you wanna talk about the law why is the school committee overstepping state and federal laws.
Dan O'Neil April 23, 2012 at 02:47 PM
I agree with Steve if there is an incident that the school feels is worthy of reporting on that should be sent to the authorities so that they can make a determination on whether to act on it or not. Educators should not be doing police work. At my job if i see someone stealing i call security or I contact the police I don't chase the person down and apprehend them. This gives the school too much power. It's bad enough the teachers don't do the job they're paid to do already.
anonomous May 06, 2012 at 04:57 PM
when did dedham turn into a police state...get the police out of the schools and hire some competent educators

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