Friday, September 7, 2012

Supplemental Material for Sept 10, 2012 School Board Meeting

Here is the supplemental material for the September 10, 2012 School Board meeting.

The primary item is a set of policy updates being submitted to the Board for our consideration. You might wonder where all this stuff comes from.

One of the official committees of the School Board is the Policy Review Committee. Its members include several administrators, principals, an HEA member, and two members of the School Board, who are appointed at the annual organizational meeting, held in January. This year, those members are Lisa Whiting and Heather Keck.

As a member of the Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA), we periodically receive a set of recommendations from their legal/policy staff as to the policy changes they believe local school boards should - and sometimes must - implement, primarily triggered by changes in Ohio and Federal law. This is a valuable service in my opinion, as it would be very expensive to maintain inhouse staff, or retain private counsel, to keep up with all the stuff happening at the Statehouse and in Washington DC.

Our Policy Review Committee considers those recommendations, and others that may arise locally, then decides which ones apply to us, which ones should be implemented verbatim, and which ones should be modified to fit our local circumstances. Their recommendations are submitted to the Superintendent for his further review. He then submits his recommendations to the School Board for action.

The policy of the School Board is to put the recommendations on the agenda for three successive meetings, and then at the third meeting to take action to accept some or all of the recommendations. The School Board may also decline to take action on some of the policies, sending them back to the Policy Review Committee for further review.

One of the policies being submitted to the School Board in this batch is a substantial update to Policy DC, which deals with Taxing and Borrowing. I'm still trying to absorb what all of it means, but I am in particular agreement with Section III, Paragraph D, which says "The District shall not employ derivative products."

We've seen a couple of local districts get burned by using a derivative instrument called a "synthetic interest rate swap."  Brian Wilson, our district's Treasurer, was wise to keep us away from these complex financial products. This policy makes it clear that we won't even consider them in the future.

Policy EAGC is being changed so that rather than the district buying cell phones for certain administrators, then trying to restrict their personal use, we'll start giving those administrators a phone allowance to compensate them for official use of their personal phones, and then we don't have to care about personal use. This is sensible, and the approach used by many private sector employers.

Policy GCBE limits the amount of unused vacation a management team member can carry over and accumulate. Again, something that is commonly seen in private industry.

Policy IGDJ would be changed to require all paid coaches to view a course on concussions. Seems like a very good idea.

Changes to IGDJ and IGCF would make it clear that students who are home-schooled, or attend a community school would be allowed to participate in HCSD athletic programs provided such students are enrolled on a part-time basis in our schools.

Policy JHCCB would be amended to excuse a child from tuberculosis testing under certain conditions, including religious convictions. I'll be interested in hearing Lisa Whiting's thoughts on this, as she is a registered nurse, and on staff at Children's Hospital. My concern is similar to the 'free rider' situation in regard to vaccinations, which is that the only reason it is relatively safe for a parent to forego vaccinations for their kids is that nearly all other kids do get vaccinations, significantly reducing the opportunities for disease transmission. It's an interesting ethical discussion. Our policy JHCB already allows for the excusing of students from a standard array of vaccination, so in this regard, JHCCB is merely being aligned with that policy.

Let me know if you have any thoughts I should take with me to the School Board meeting. Or you can communicate with any or all of the Board members directly - our email addresses are on the District website.


  1. Paul,

    All vaccinations should be opt-out. The "herd mentality" is a direct violation of our freedom and liberty. Period.

    1. It's not that simple of course. This is one of those cases where we proclaim rights from behind the shield of safety others have taken the risks to provide.

      Most of us have never and will never meet anyone with polio. But when I was a child, it was a real and terrifying threat. Then the Salk and Sabin vaccines were developed. I remember the months when our public schools became vaccination centers, and everyone - parents, grandparents, children - everyone lined up to get vaccinated. In a very short time period, polio was no longer a threat.

      What if x% of the population had opted-out of getting the polio vaccine? If that percentage were great enough, we'd still be dealing with new polio victims.

      It's not easy to separate freedoms from societal obligations. For example, you don't have to get a driver's license. But if you don't, you may not drive a motorized vehicle on the public streets and highways. But then, some of your tax dollars are going to be spent on the streets and highways anyway.

      Similarly, I think it might be reasonable to say that if you don't accept the obligation to protect my child by having your child get immunizations, that's your choice, but then your child should be prohibited from attending public school.

      Of course, in today's system, you have to pay the property and income taxes to operate the public schools anyway.

      Perhaps liberty and 'pay-to-play,' in the broadest sense, should be coupled. There should be no public institutions, and everything should be privately operated and funded by paying customers.

      If you want to drive on a paved highway, you should have to pay a toll, or maybe a subscription, to the private entity that spent the money to construct the highway. And you have to agree to the restrictions the owner places on its use. For example, the owner - to lessen exposure to liability - might require all drivers and passengers in vehicles which use his highway to wear 5-point safety harnesses, Nomex firesuits, and helmets, and limit speed to 35mph. But then he might never get any customers if a parallel road is built by another private owner, and that owner has no restrictions whatsoever on driver behavior, provided all drivers sign a release from liability.

      American society has evolved a composite economy, with a mixture of private and public services. The debate is how much each is appropriate, and no one really wants the public sector to be zero (e.g. to fund the military). We're no longer Daniel Boone types who can live off the land indefinitely, out of contact with other humans for months on end.

      Many people don't get that absolute liberty demands complete assumption of risk. So as society tries to reduce risk, the price is some of our liberties.

  2. >>Similarly, I think it might be reasonable to say that if you don't accept the obligation to protect my child by having your child get immunizations, that's your choice, but then your child should be prohibited from attending public school.

    This is a really bad argument because we already permit religious exemptions (as protected by the 1st amendment). By making it so those with religious convictions are protected from banishment but those without religious convictions are not, we have created state-sanctioned religion which is a path we do not wish to travel.

    There are other good arguments against your point too, but this one is by far the most obvious since your point creates an obvious catch 22 with regard to the 1st amendment.

    FWIW, my kids are all vaccinated but the chicken pox vaccination (now mandatory for school admittance) is the perfect example of a flawed system: the vaccination needs 10 year renewal and failure to renew increases the likelihood of adult chicken pox which is far, far more dangerous than childhood chickenpox. So, in order to enroll in school, children have to commit to a lifetime of vaccinations payments to drug companies to get an education.

    Are you still sure mandatory vaccinations are the right solution?

    1. I'm not so sure the First Amendment is meant to ensure that one can opt out of a public health program, for example, and still enjoy public services.

      I absolutely agree that a citizen has the right to exercise freedom of religion without interference of the State, provided that exercise does not simultaneously deny me of any of my rights.

      For example, it is a Sikh tradition that every male should always be armed, and ready to defend the faith. But we can't allow them to come into schools or places of business with weapons. Is their freedom of religion being abridged? Certainly, but the vast majority of folks who aren't Sikh are quite okay with it - even the ACLU.

      The tangle between state and religion is in this case, and in many cases, about access to tax-funded public institutions. If all schools were privately operated, and we granted poor kids financial assistance so that all could pay for an education if they want it, then it would be possible for a group of folks who opposed mandated vaccinations to form their own school (I sure wouldn't want to send my kids there - knowing none of the kids are vaccinated!).

      The problem is that one cannot opt-out of both the vaccinations and the taxes. One can argue that freedoms aren't being abridged by the vaccination program so much as they are by the exclusive right granted to public schools to collect taxes in order to operate those schools.

      By the way, a Sikh friend once showed me how he and most Sikh males satisfy the mandate that they be armed - he carries a tiny plastic dagger in his wallet...

    2. With respect, the 1st amendment protects religious freedoms, which is why the State permits religious exemptions to mandatory vaccinations. They know full well it's a losing case if they tried to force kids of certain religions to be vaccinated in order to attend public school.

      Many states offer philosophical exemptions too. (I believe Ohio is one of them.)

      You are correct on the tax issue though. I believe the applicable term is "legalized theft"...

    3. Tax-funded mandatory programs are a good thing when they support stuff we believe in, but are "legalized theft" in every other case.

      As long as we have a democratic republic, there will always be taxes. The left/right debate will always be about the degree of control we grant to the government, not whether or not there should be any control at all.

      The great danger to our country is ignorance and apathy, with a little selfishness thrown in, not which party controls Congress and the White House. Voters always more of what's good for "me" especially if the cost is borne by "them."

      Elections are about getting the folks who promised stuff to "me" in office, so they can pick the pockets of "them."

      What ever happened to "us"? The last time I recall any great display of "us" in this country was 11 years ago, on this very date. But that dissipated pretty quickly...

  3. M-

    I wouldn't take the Declaration of Independence too literally.

    Jefferson certainly wasn't literal in how he defined "men"...

    1. Not sure where the reference to the Declaration of Independence comes from, but we should note that in the context of the times, Jefferson meant exactly what he said, because "men" meant white males, specifically aristocratic white males, excluding women and other races.

      Fortunately, American tradition has been to let the meaning of these words in our founding documents to change with the times. That's the reason the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights have evolved - expanding in some cases, and narrowing in others.

  4. Paul-

    I take any generic appeal to liberty as reference to the Declaration.

    It seems as if I take a much more critical view of Jefferson (and the Virginians in general) than you. I cannot agree that revolutionaries with this degree of brain power felt encumbered by the ever-shifting prevailing attitude. In this regard, they simply chose to do wrong. I hate when this point is glossed over.

    In my estimation, Hamilton seemed to have the most realistic foresight out of the founding fathers for which direction the country was heading...

    1. I didn't say that Jefferson anticipated that the meaning of his words word evolve, only that it has become tradition, mostly via two centuries of court decisions, to let the meanings change with the times. Sometimes that has been a good thing, and sometimes not so good. But it has allowed the founding documents to bend rather than break.

    2. Well off topic here, but it is that very "change in meaning" that has led us politically to where we are today.

      The DofI and the Constitution mean precisely what they say, not what some court determines they meant 80 or 180 years later.

      The Founders were indeed wise; they provided a way for the Constitution to be amended when needed. They certainly never intended for courts to "interpret" its meaning.

      Maybe if more people understood that we wouldn't be so polarized...

    3. When Jefferson wrote "that all men are created equal," that didn't incorporate women, Native Americans, African Americans or anyone other than white males.

      So are you saying that we should still be reading it that way today?

      Seems to me that what is meant by "all men" has evolved, in some cases by amendment to the Constitution, in some cases by decision of the Courts, and in others by decree of the Executive branch.

      The "right to bear arms" of the 2nd Amendment is another one that has evolved. The 2nd Amendment isn't about personal self-defense, it's about allowing the citizens to be armed so that the government cannot oppress them. It contemplates a local militia taking up arms against the government troops. At the time of its writing, warfighting technology was largely one of swords, muskets, horses and the occasional cannon - all affordable by both the government and the local militia.

      Does that mean that today it should be okay for everyday citizens to own hand grenades, attack helicopters and the occasional tactical nuke?

      One thing our form of government guarantees is a never-ending debate about the role of government, and how much power it should have. The only way we can go wrong is to be apathetic, and not participate in the debate at all.

    4. >Does that mean that today it should be okay for everyday citizens to own hand grenades, attack helicopters and the occasional tactical nuke?

      Yes. Oh, and only the third item are currently not owned by everyday citizens.

      If the purpose of the 2nd amendment is to permit the populace to defend itself against a tyrannical government, then it should be permitted the same weapons that the government has.

      The real sadness here is that we are even contemplating a government that would go that far against its own people in this country.

      The other solution there of course is to deprive the government of money to arm itself...

    5. See, I'm right. Never ending debate! ;-)

    6. M- Please screen all further arguments against this list:

      Paul- Your reasoning is not practical enough. The definition of "man(kind)" has always been innate. If you can produce offspring with someone, that person is a human. Jefferson had first hand empirical evidence of this with Ms. Hemings.

      So dont say the word has changed. The decrees of those holding the guns and gold may change, but that still doesnt alter the truth

      Helicopters and nukes? Try fertilizer. Just ask an Afghan farmer.

    7. T ... all I'm saying is that when you make a Constitutional argument saying "the intention of the Framers was..." you have to deal with the fact that the Framers had a different view than we do today of what some of those words meant.

      But one can also make a mistake by not interpreting the founding documents from their perspective - ie the 2nd Amendment.

    8. T - Excuse me? Would you like to be more specific in which of my arguments is an apparent fallacy?

  5. Please note that there has been an update to the wording of policy IGDJ to make it clear that home-schooled students who are enrolled in online classes may also participate in interscholastic athletics.

  6. Sent out today from the Central Office:

    Amanda Morris
    School-Community Relations Coordinator
    Hilliard City Schools

    September 14, 2012

    Dear Parents,

    Hilliard Weaver Middle School has been notified of a case of pertussis, more commonly known as whooping cough. According to the Franklin County Public Health Department pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial illness that causes a cough lasting several weeks. Early symptoms include a runny nose, sneezing, fever and cough similar to a common cold or allergies.

    This message is to inform you that your child may have been exposed, and if he/she experiences any of these symptoms or is in close contact of a pertussis case, please call your child’s healthcare provider for medical evaluation. The Ohio Infectious Disease Control Manual defines a close contact of a patient with pertussis as “anyone who has had face-to-face contact or shared a confined space for a prolonged period of time with an infected individual.”

    The Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recommends persons ages 10 and older should receive a single dose of Tdap for booster immunization against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. Please visit the Franklin County Public Health Department’s website at for more information about pertussis. If you have further questions or concerns please contact your student’s health care provider.


    Craig Vroom, Principal Robin Trafford, School Nurse

    I bet lots of kids will be getting the vaccine over the next few days...