Changes to the student handbooks for the two Challis schools have been approved by the school board.
The changes affect attendance rules, school dances and standing for the Pledge of Allegiance.
Challis High School Principal Kari Alexander and four teachers on the handbook committee first proposed that students stand for the Pledge of Allegiance “if you wish.” The change was suggested because teachers didn’t think they should confront students and make them stand, Alexander said.
Students should stand for the pledge even if they choose not to recite it, school board Chairman Brett Plummer and trustees Trish Farr and Terri Stillwaugh said.
“I think we need to leave in ‘stand,’” Plummer said. “Leave it as it is. But, that’s my stand. It shows respect.” Plummer said his grandfather would have grabbed any student sitting down for the pledge by the ear. Standing is about privileges and shows you appreciate the sacrifices that servicemen and women made for the flag, Plummer said.
Perhaps students who choose not to participate could talk to Alexander rather than having a confrontation during the ceremony, elementary teacher Lori Gregory suggested. Some families don’t participate in the pledge or national anthem for religious reasons, Superintendent Lani Rembelski said.
On separate votes, trustees approved all other proposed changes to the junior-senior high school handbook and approved the elementary student handbook as written.
According to the change to attendance rules, a CHS student who is 15 or more minutes late to class is marked absent for that class only, not for the entire day, Alexander said. Previously students were marked tardy. Students are now required to be present for 70 percent of each class period or be marked as absent. This doesn’t include excused absences.
In the past, graduates and students who had dropped out were allowed to attend school dances, Alexander said, but the committee proposes that only high school students be allowed to attend school dances. As long as it could be verified they’re in high school, a high school student from another high school could attend Challis dances.
Students in detention or on in-school suspension must turn in their cellphones, Alexander said.
Another change is that students must buy activity cards before the first game of a season. Teachers and school district patrons may pay $10 to ride school activity buses if there’s room, Alexander said.
A section stating that teachers would be assigned to discipline students was struck from the handbook because teachers didn’t believe they had authority to suspend students from extracurricular activities, which is under the principal’s authority.
There were fewer changes for the elementary student handbook, and the board had no questions about them.