Hillsborough school policy changes consider school names, suspended kindergarteners and more

Published February 13 2018

TAMPA — Policy changes proposed for the Hillsborough County school district would affect everything from which children can be suspended to who can have a school named in his or her honor.

The Hillsborough County School Board is scheduled to discuss eight policies Tuesday at 9 a.m. in a workshop.

They will return later in the year at a public hearing before the board takes a final vote.

Among the proposed changes:

• Elevate schools, a label given to schools in greatest need of improvement and support, will continue to be defined as those with at least two D or F grades, with demonstrated deficiencies in behavior, suspension and kindergarten readiness.

Parental involvement would be added to the list of criteria: It must be less than 20 percent. There is also more specific critera for the school’s principal: He or she must have spent at least two years running a high-needs school and an additional year as an assistant principal in a high needs school.

• Children awaiting placement in foster care would no longer be counted among homeless students.

• No student in grades kindergarten through second would be eligible for suspension.

• A new policy would govern lobbying activities in the district. Lobbyists -- defined as people who are working for their clients’ financial gain, whether they are being paid or not -- would have to register, and disclose their lobbying role when interacting with district officials.

• A proposed revision to the district’s policy on travel would cap expenses for the superintendent and board members to $3,500 a year, not including registration fees and tuition.

Administrators below that level can spend up to $2,500 unless they get approval from the superintendent.

Exceptions exist if a trip requires an employee or official to visit more than one city, as is the case with teams who recruit teachers.

The traveler would have to use "the most economical method of travel" for each trip.

• School buildings and facilities would not be named for anyone who is a candidate for public office. And no longer would the district be required to wait 18 months to consider a name change, a policy that delayed the process of renaming Lee Elementary School.

• The board also will consider overhauling the district’s wellness policy with changes that affect physical education, health education, psychological and social services and family engagement.

An afternoon session at 1 p.m. will review the student dress code.

Marlene Sokol can be reached at (813) 226-3356 or [email protected] Follow @marlenesokol