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UPSD Board Votes to Create Student Discipline Policy
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

            Last week, the Upper Perkiomen School Board voted to affirm two policies related to student discipline and remote participation in meetings. Member Raeann Hofkin cast the lone vote opposing the action item, which included an administrative regulation regarding assignment and transfer, during the Nov. 10 public meeting.

            The members approved a new policy covering the discipline of students convicted of or adjudicated for sexual assault. An incident involving a former member of the football team led the board to create the new policy.

            Assistant Superintendent Andrea Farina said the policy follows Act 110, a state law that requires that students who have been found guilty of sexual assault against another student be educated in a separate school from their victim and not be permitted to participate in the same school-sponsored activities.

            She explained after the meeting that the new policy was created to provide guidance to the public. Farina said the district is required to follow the law.

            According to Farina, the revised policy on remote participation in meetings increases the number of members who can participate by one to three. She also said it allows members to participate in virtual executive sessions with prior notification. Additionally, it simplifies the language regarding public announcement.

            Hofkin opposes the portion of the policy that allows members to participate remotely in an executive session. In a text message received Monday afternoon, she argues that there's no way to prove a person participating in a confidential private meeting can prove to be alone in a room.

            "I wrote the policy years ago and [a previous board] discussed the concerns. [That previous board] decided not to allow remote call-in for executive sessions," Hofkin wrote. "This board hasn't been following the policy anyway and decided to change it as if technology changed in the last few years.  Technology has nothing to do with the previous exclusion."  

            In personnel news, the members voted to accept the resignation of district employees Jacqueline Shea-Winner and Brittany Saraceno, effective Jan. 6, 2023.

            The board also approved two support staff employees. They include paraprofessional Keri Summers and Shannon Quinones, a part-time food service worker.

            Additionally, the members approved a leave of absence for Jill Smerdon, continuously from Oct. 24 to Nov. 1 and intermittently thereafter.  The also approved a leave of absence for Barbara Harding, intermittently between Oct. 19, 2022, through Oct. 19, 2023, according to the meeting agenda language.

            Solicitor Kyle Somers said the members held two recent executive sessions. They met immediately prior to the board meeting to discuss collective bargaining with the Upper Perkiomen Education Association and an administrative employee. Somers also said the members met privately on Nov. 7 to discuss legislative implications of certain policies currently under review by the board.






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