Wellesley Schools Summary: Bias Reporting System Under Review; masking update; superintendent support discussed


The Wellesley School Committee meeting last week (November 9) ran the gamut. Here’s a recap, though watch the entire meeting via the Wellesley Media recording embedded below to fill in the blanks… including an update on anti-bullying efforts in schools.

Paused Bias Reporting System

Supt. Dr. David Lussier read the following statement:

“Earlier today, I temporarily canceled bias-based reporting procedures within Wellesley Public Schools. This temporary cancellation gives us the opportunity to fully review and update the procedure to ensure that it is both consistent with recent case law, including Mahanoy Area School District v. BL, the so-called “cheerleader case” decided by the United States Supreme Court in June, and protects the important work we do here at WPS. In the near future, I will provide the School Board with a modified and updated reporting procedure that strengthens our ability to handle and respond to incidents of bias and discrimination in a manner consistent with the constitutional protections to which WPS students are entitled. . By undertaking this review, we renew our commitment to promote diversity, equity and inclusion within our schools and to provide equal educational opportunities and a safe learning environment for all students, faculty and staff. . We also understand that this temporary decision may affect some of our students, staff and faculty more than others. We recognize that these impacts have educational implications and that we as educators and administrators need to be aware of these implications. We also confirm that all district policies regarding bullying, threatening, harassment and discrimination remain in full effect. Students who witness or believe they are victims of such behavior should continue to report such incidents of bullying, threats, harassment, or discrimination to any WPS staff member or trusted adult in the district.

WPS removed content from its “Responding to bias-based incidents” page, but it is still available here.

Bias-based incident reporting procedures have been a hot topic for those attacking the school system’s approach to dealing with racial and bias issues.

Masking Update

The school committee meeting began with several residents sharing their thoughts on the school’s masking mandate, and a related topic protocol of agreement (non-updated version) between the district and the teachers’ union. The public also voted on this agreement at a recent board of health meeting, raising concerns that the agreement will lock the district into mask-wearing throughout the school year, even if the COVID-19 situation improves significantly as young children start to get used to it. vaccinate.

The states The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has extended the term until January 15, although some districts require waivers drop the mask mandate.

Lussier tried to assure the public that the Wellesley deal would not lock in the district and that the ability to update the masking rules would be available through discussions between the union and the school district. “The biggest concern we’ve heard is whether or not this MoA reflects a mask mandate, that if we accept it the masks won’t come off until the summer, and that’s really not the case. “, said Lussier. The agreement reflects the current state and the fact that the state has not defined ways to move away from the mandate, he said.

Director of Human Resources, Monica Visco, reviewed some updates to the agreement which clarified that the terms of the agreement remain open for negotiation.

“Next steps in the mask mandate” is among the items on the agenda for the November 16 school committee meeting.

Wellesley parents of young students are trying to do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19. Vaccination clinics for 5-11 year olds to be held at Sprague Elementary School this week have filled up quickly, and another may be on the way.

The vote of confidence for the superintendent will wait

The school committee ended their meeting by presenting a draft statement of support for Lussier (embedded below) following recent calls from a member of the public for him to lose his job in light of how WPS dealt with issues such as bullying.

A member of the committee had to leave the meeting early, and a member who was supporting Lussier was not sure that such a statement would send the right message. The committee therefore decided to suspend the vote.

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