A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District Forms Packet 2012-13

The Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District (MARSD) has issued its 2012-2013 school year forms packet for parents to sign by 7 Sep 2012. The "complete packet" is 24 pages long and paperless.

Parents are told the rules about:
  • pp 1-3: Student use of computers and the possible consequences for abuse
  • pg 4: Student attendance
  • pg 5: Asbestos hazards
  • pg 6: Pesticide hazards
  • pg 7: Bias incidents
  • pp 8-16, 22: Harassment, intimidation and bullying
  • pp 17-19 - Cyber bullying
  • pg 20 - Parent Portal - communications with the school
  • pg 21 - Rules regarding late arrival and early dismissal
  • pg 23 - Authorization for family physician
  • pg 24 - Consent to use your child's image on school website and/or Huskievision
A few points of concern:

1) The Internet Safety/Protection section (pg 2) makes a simple if fundamental error in its application of the Miller vs US three-prong test of obscenity. The US Supreme Court ruling calls for all three prongs to be met, not just one or two of them. The current "either/or" rendering of the school rule erroneously leaves each prong to stand alone as a violation of obscenity. The individual elements cannot stand alone but must be applied and met together to add up to obscenity. And for good reason. Notice that the third element -- images are deemed obscene that lack literary, artistic, scientific, or political value to minors -- certainly doesn't on its own necessarily add up to obscenity.

The rules ask parents to give the school permission to act reasonably in the area of computer use, which sounds okay until you realize that individual teachers and school district officials are left to apply their own values when they enforce what is "generally acceptable in the community."

One day we'll all look back at this aspect of these guidelines and gasp.

2) Notice that bullying gets the lion's share of attention here. Lots of detail. But at the same time they want you to sign 1) that you're aware of a vague plan to deal with asbestos in MARSD buildings and 2) that their use of pesticides won't be discussed this year but isn't any big shakes.

3) Parents have to grant the school permission to post their child's image on the school's website and on Huskievision. The form doesn't allow a parent to say no. Instead, a parent would have to sign the form granting permission, then take the second step of writing a letter to the school rescinding that permission. The simple answer is to have a form that offers yes or no checkoff boxes to grant permission or not. Most parents, if they read these 24 pages, will throw up their hands and grant this permission.


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