The Board of Education unanimously voted April 21 to accept a recommendation to suspend a number of Board policies including those related to graduation ceremonies and eligibility for fall extracurricular activities based on a student’s fourth-quarter grade point average.
The suspension of policies allows Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) staff the flexibility to make decisions in the wake of the Maryland school closure that was initially put in place March 16 in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). The school closure was recently extended to May 15.
DeJuan Woods Jr., student member of the Board and member of Thomas Stone High School’s Class of 2020, addressed all students during his monthly report. “Students, in particular, have experienced a multitude of losses. The cancellation of anticipated students trips, loss of athletic events, the closing of schools and the physical interaction with their teachers and friends,” he said.
“To the Class of 2020 – my class – all the hard work and achievement this graduating class has accomplished will never go away and will not go unrecognized,” Woods said. “While the possibilities will not be in the way that we always hoped and anticipated, it is nonetheless still a monumental milestone for us and one that should be celebrated.”
Dr. Kimberly Hill, superintendent of schools, asked Woods to develop an advisory committee made up of seniors from the county’s high schools to brainstorm and share ideas of how they would like to potentially celebrate graduation if traditional ceremonies cannot be held.
The advisory committee will teleconference with its suggestion, which CCPS staff will consider as plans for commencement continue to develop.
- Policy 1111 – which prohibits one-on-one communication on social media between a student and teacher.
- Policy 5132 – which states CCPS will issue report cards four times a year, once per quarter. Interim reports are issued according to the superintendent’s rules.
- Policy 5132.2 – which states the grades of students in Grades 6 through 12 be computed by averaging grades resulting in a letter grade.
- Policy 5132.4 – which allows the superintendent to develop the weighting of grades.
- Policy 5138 – which requires the Board to follow all testing requirements as mandated by the Maryland State Board of Education.
- Policy 6412.1a – which recognizes that teachers organize and teach the instructional program in line with the most recent courses of study and guides issued for use within the county. No course of study can be offered or changed without prior Board approval.
- Policy 6412.2 – which outlines that the Board must annually approve textbooks and other instruction materials.
The Board agreed that it will allow one-on-one communication between teacher and student to discuss educational issues only; the Board will not issue interim report cards for the fourth quarter; letter grades will not be issued for the fourth quarter, instead the Board adopted a temporary grading policy; weighted grades will not be issued for the fourth quarter; as the state Board waived mandated state assessments, Charles County’s Board of Education suspended the testing requirements laid out by the state; the superintendent has the flexibility to approve a teacher’s course of study and guides during the school closure, as well as the ability to approve textbooks and other instructional materials.
- Policy 5136 – which states that graduation ceremonies will be held for students who have met the requirements for a high school diploma or certificate held on dates set by the Board.
- Policy 6431 – which states that students who want to participate in fall extracurricular sports and/or activities will need to meet eligibility requirements based on their fourth-quarter grade point average at the end of the previous school year.
- Policy 6353 – which states fire drills are conducted each month at every school.
- Policy 6355 – which states students will participate in bus evacuation drills and training in safe riding practices twice a school year.
- Policy 1133 – which states a public forum will be held during each regularly scheduled Board meeting and Board work session.
- Policy 8160 – which requires financial disclosure statements to be filed by April 30.
The Board agreed that long-established graduation ceremonies might not be held if the school closure extends to June and fall extracurricular eligibility may not be affected if traditional fourth-quarter grades are not issued; no fire drills or bus safety drills or training will be held while school buildings are closed and school buses are not running during the closure; no public forum will be held while Board meetings are held via teleconferencing and the public is invited to share their comments and suggestions with Board members by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org; and due to some of the ethics forms needing to be notarized and notaries not being as available with social distancing mandates in place, the April 30 due date is waived.
Charles County Public Schools provides 27,521 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 37 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Kathy Kiessling, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial M. Majors, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.