No single group or incident provided the push for the Snoqualmie Valley School District’s new civility policy, say school district staff. Instead, the policy, formally adopted by the school board at its May 29 meeting, grew from discussions that began more than six months ago, after contentious contract negotiations with the district’s teacher union were completed just hours before a teacher’s strike would have begun.
“This policy was developed in collaboration with Lisa Radmer, who is the president of the Snoqualmie Valley Education Association,” Superintendent Joel Aune told the school board before the first reading of the policy, May 15.
Aune said the policy was meant to guide everyone in the district. “This policy holds all of us accountable. That includes parents, staff and students, to interact, and behave in appropriate fashions that will serve the betterment of our schools and the betterment of our school district.”
Board member Carolyn Simpson asked if the policy was a state requirement. It isn’t, Aune responded, although several school districts have established similar policies.
Aune emphasized that the intent was simply “articulating a standard of civility” and was not a response to a particular problem.
“I think, in our school district, we have a strong preponderance of interactions that are positive and productive,” he said. However, “especially with the continuing emergence of social media we are noticing, as probably most of you are, that there is maybe a trend, that people, maybe in front of the keyboard, or out there in (cyber)space, tend to cross that line a little bit more than previously.”
The new policy was reviewed May 15 and adopted by the board on its second reading May 29.
Several times this year, the school district and the school board have been criticized for the tone of its contract negotiations with the other staff unions, Public School Employees of Washington (PSE) for most classified staff, and Snoqualmie Valley Admininstrative Secretaries Association (SVASA) for district secretaries. All of the contracts, including the SVEA’s, expired Aug. 30, 2013, but only the SVEA contract was settled in 2013. Classified staff with PSE approved a new contract Feb. 13, and SVASA is still in negotiations with the district.
The new policy’s stated purpose is to create a safe and productive environment for employees and students and to reduce “potential triggers for violent conduct.” Examples of uncivil conduct are provided, and a high-level procedure for addressing grievances is described.
Find the full policy, No. 4011, at www.svsd410.org.