Students face rule changes for 2014-15

COVINGTON – The Newton County School System has drafted student handbooks for both elementary and secondary schools that could carry some changes for the 2014-15 school year.

Changes in both school levels have been made in regard to objects students are not allowed to bring on campus. With the growing popularity of electronic cigarettes, NCSS has added them as a prohibited item. In contrast to last year’s handbooks’ section named “Tobacco Use,” the BOE has renamed this portion in the proposed handbood, “Nicotine Delivering Products.” The new rule states, “Using and/or possessing electronic nicotine delivery devices (ie. electronic cigarettes) and/or tobacco in any form on school property or at a school function is prohibited.”

In addition to electronic cigarettes being barred, toy guns have been added to the list of banned objects. Along with water guns, lighters, stink bombs, yo-yos and cameras, Newton elementary and secondary students could face detention, in- or out-of-school suspension or a conference for bringing toy guns to school. However, students can bring these things to school if they are required as part of a planned activity and approved by a teacher and/or school administrator.

Both elementary and secondary students can expect some changes in the dress code as well. If approved, students next year would no longer be allowed to wear uncovered leggings. Secondary students can also add yoga pants as clothes deemed inappropriate for the classroom. Despite the new clothing restrictions, the proposed handbook strikes the rule that states secondary students must display ID badges where provided.

With regard to curriculum, students in grades four and five would no longer have spelling as a separate course, but the subject would be considered as a part of their language arts classes.

For secondary schools, NCSS has added a rule regarding sexual battery. Incidents such as rape, attempted rape, fondling, indecent liberties and molestation could result in suspension for 10 school days. The offense could be upgraded to aggravated sexual battery depending on the circumstances. Students who violate this rule will be referred to a formal hearing, and the principal or designee will notify law enforcement officials and the superintendent’s office about the offense.

The BOE is expected to vote on the amended handbooks at its regular session on March 18.