At last week’s meeting, the Board of Trustees reviewed a proposed change to the school’s discipline policy. The most significant change in the policy is below.
“Any incident that happens outside of school and is considered detrimental to the welfare of the school, student body, or an individual, will be handled as a disciplinary incident.”
If the Board approves the change to the policy, it could lead to students being suspended or even expelled for significant events that happen off-campus.
Significant events that happen between ISD students off campus can be disruptive to the
school’s learning environment and negatively impact the overall welfare of individuals or groups of students. For example, if a student was sexually assaulted in a private residence, allowing the perpetrator to continue attending school would be harmful to the survivor and could create an unsafe environment for other students who become aware of the assault.
In the past, the Administration has been restricted from taking action due to the fact that the Board Policy does not give the Administration jurisdiction to discipline students for behavior off-campus except in the cases of harassment.
In surveying other international schools, it appears schools deal with off-campus issues in one of three ways. One, significant discipline incidents are covered by the laws of the country and significant incidents are referred to the police. Two, schools claim jurisdiction over off-campus incidents if they impact the students or the learning environment. Three, schools do not claim jurisdiction over off-campus incidents at all and do not impose consequences for off-campus incidents. The Administration is recommending we claim jurisdiction over off-campus events if the incident would have a negative effect on our students or the learning environment.
Given the importance of this change, I wanted to share the information with the community and invite students, parents, and staff to comment on the proposed changes. You can email your comments to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or the Board of Trustees at Boardbox@isd.sn.
What are the next steps in the process?
The Policy Committee will review the policy again at its meeting in April and consider any public comment. The Committee may make changes to the policy. The Board will then review the policy at its meeting on April 15. The Board may choose to vote on the policy at the April meeting or could elect to send it back to the committee for further discussion.
Why is the Administration proposing this change?
Events that happen off-campus impact our students’ ability to feel safe on campus, which in turn, negatively impacts their ability to learn. Imagine if a student was sexually assaulted or was physically threatened on a Saturday night at a party then had to sit next to the perpetrator of the assault or violence on Monday in class. It would be impossible for the survivor of the sexual assault or victim of the violence to focus on the class lesson or do their assignments.
The school has a duty to protect the students and must deal with any events that impact the students’ ability to learn.
Does the school currently have jurisdiction over student behavior off-campus?
Yes, Board Policy 4015.5 ISD Harassment Policy states the following:
“The International School of Dakar does not tolerate bullying or harassment in person or online. The school policy and administration shall view such behavior as a serious violation of the standards of conduct expected from all employees, students, and community members of ISD, and such behavior shall be grounds for disciplinary action as defined in the student handbook.”
Do other schools have similar policies?
Yes, a number of other international schools and private schools in the United States and Europe have similar discipline policies.
How will the school investigate off-campus incidents?
The school will investigate the incident by speaking with all students who were involved in the incident or may have witnessed the incident. For certain events, the school may contract with an outside party who has additional expertise. For example, for cases of alleged sexual assault, the school may contract with someone with expertise in investigating sexual assaults.
Why doesn’t the school let the police investigate incidents that happen off-campus?
The decision to pursue criminal charges rests with the parents of the child involved in the incident. The family may choose not to pursue a criminal case. However, the incident will still impact the students involved in the incident as well as other students who learn of the event.
How will students and parents be notified of these changes?
If the Board approves the changes, the parents and students will be notified by a video and written announcement. The new policy will be highlighted in the re-enrollment and enrollment agreements all parents must sign. Every year, the Administration will inform the students and parents of the policy.
Can a parent refuse to agree to this policy?
Agreeing to this policy is a condition of enrolling a child in the school. Parents who do not agree with this policy should have their children attend a different school. When signing the enrollment and re-enrollment agreements, the parents agree that they will follow Board Policy and the Student-Parent Handbook.
How can I share my opinion about this policy change?
All members of the community - students, parents, and staff - are invited to share their comments by emailing the Director, Alan Knobloch at (email@example.com) or the Board of Trustees at (Boardbox@isd.sn). Anonymous comments will not be considered.