Columbia County’s student code of conduct for next school year received routine renewal Tuesday, but there might be changes in the way drug cases are handled.
The code, which governs student behavior in all Columbia County public schools, received final unanimous approval by school board members despite questions from trustee Mike Sleeper regarding the policy on on-campus drug use and possession.
Current policy, Sleeper said, is “one-size-fits-all,” and levies the same punishment to a student who brings drugs or alcohol to school as it does to the student who takes them.
“We’ve goofed over some kids for ingesting what someone else brought to campus,” Sleeper said, arguing in favor of stronger punishment for the student who supplies the drugs.
Superintendent Charles Nagle said the code has evolved through the years as cases have moved through the system, generally handing down more strict punishment for all such cases.
“Just because Child A brought it to school doesn’t mean Child B needs to take it,” board member Roxanne Whitaker said.
Trustees approved the policies as presented, but with instructions to give further study to that part of the code.
Also Tuesday, system officials presented the results from spring standardized tests, and said fewer will need retesting this year despite a higher number of children taking the tests.
“In most cases, the results are very good,” Nagle told the board regarding the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests.
Students must pass the test to be promoted, or must undergo remediation and retesting.
In third-grade reading, 63 students failed the test, compared to 67 in 2011, even though 30 more students took the test this year. That remediation already has been taking place, Nagle said, with retesting already under way.
Those retests are held during the school session for the second year in a row, a switch from the previous method of holding remediation and retesting during the summer – which carried with it the added expense for opening the schools and providing transportation to those pupils.
In addition to the third-grade reading scores, fifth-grade reading improved, with just 49 of 1,958 students failing, compared to 2011 when 77 of 1,734 failed. Eight-grade reading improved, with 24 failing out of 1,848 tested, compared to 26 failing in 2011 from 1,826 tested.
Eighth-grade math also improved, with 202 students failing out of 1,848 tested, compared to 264 of 1,826 last year.
The only numerical decline in scores is in fifth-grade math, where 155 of 1,958 failed, compared to 136 failing from among 1,734 tested last year.