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September 11, 2013     Hays Free Press
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September 11, 2013
 

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TAKEN TO HEART Hays High athlete waits for new heart in Houston. - Pa0e 1C Hays Free Press September 11, 2013 Page 3B Feds: No waiver in HB 866 STAFF REPORT The U.S. Department of Education (USDE) has notified the Texas Education Agency (TEA) that it will not grant a waiver for specific provisions of the Elementary and Sec- ondary Education Act (com- monly known as the No Child, Left Behind Act of 2001) as it relates to House Bill 866 (HB 866). Had a waiver been secured from the federal government, potential changes under HB 866 would have included math assessments for certain students in grades 3, 5 and 8; and reading in grades 3, 5 and 8. High-performing students would have been exempt from taking these assessments in grades 4, 6, and 7. Current federal law requires testing for math and reading for all stu- dents in grades 3 through 8. 'Annual assessment of all students in grades 3 through 8 is critical to holding schools and LEAs [local education agencies] accountable for improng the achievement of all students and to providing transparency on LEA, school, and student performance to families, com- mtmities, and other stakehold- ers," wrote Assistant Secretary of Education Deborah S. Delisle in a Sept. 6 letter to Commis- sioner of Education Michael Williams. "Therefore, should the TEA submit such a request, I would decline to exercise my authority to grant a waiver of the provisions you have identi- fied." In July, Commissioner Wil- liams submitted a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan seeking clarification from USDE whether specific federal provisions related to student tests might be waived. The authors of HB 866 (passed by the 83rd Texas Legislature) recognized a federal waiver was necessary before provi- sions of the legislation could be put into effect. In her letter to Commis- sioner Williams, Assistant Secretary Delisle went on to say that HB 866 provisions could also impact the state's current request for a general NCLB waiver. TEA submitted its original application in Feb- ruary, updated its submission in August and awaits a final decision. 's has been granted in oth- er states, Texas school districts also deserve some relief from NCLB," said Commissioner Williams. "I remain optimistic that after months of discus- sion with the U.S. Department of Education, our districts will be granted greater flexibility for some NCLB provisions." Background: In a July 17 letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Commissioner Wil- liams seeks clarification from USDE that the specific federal provisions related to these student tests can and may be waived. "The legislative authors of House Bill 866 drafted the bill with the intent to reduce the testing burden and costs for students, teachers, parents, and schools by reducing the amount of mandatory testing for students in grades 3-8 who are high performing," said Commissioner Williams in his letter to Secretary Duncan. "During the legislative ses- sion, the authors expressed their belief that this legislation would allow high-performing students to focus their time and energy on learning new material and not focusing ev- ery year on a test where there is a high likelihood that they would demonstrate success." PHOTO BY JIM CULLEN Stocking up for the school year Melissa Cardona, left, and Mckenna Caldwell help prepare school supplies for Hays CISD students who didn't have the means to purchase their own for the start of the school year.More than 200 backpacks were filled, in large part from donations from local businesses. Hunting weapons in trucks lead to explusion BY KIM HILSENBECK kim@haysfreepress.com Was it a case of forgetfulness or willful disobeying school rules? Either way, two Hays High School students, including one football player in his senior year, will spend up to 120 days at the Impact Cen- ter - an alternative disciplinary campus for Hays CISD. Last Wednesday, Principal David Pierce sent a letter out to parents notify- ing them that security personnel at the school found two students' vehicles in the parking lot containing a shotgun and a hunting knife. Anyone in Hays County who has heard the popping noise of shotguns in the woods recently is likely aware that the opening of dove season in Texas was Sept. 1. Pierce's letter said, "This morning, during a routine check of the Hays High School parking lot, a security guard dis- covered hunting weapons in two differ- ent pickup trucks. The weapons were locked in each vehicle and there was no threat to students or staff. One truck had a shot gun and the other had hunting knives." "Though no threat to the campus ex- isted, it is a very serious offense to bring a prohibited weapon onto school prop- erty. The two students- a junior and a se- nior - could face law enforcement con- sequences. In addition, our Hays CISD code of conduct specifies disciplinary consequences for these situations." "I encourage all parents to talk with their children about making sure items that are prohibited on campuses are re- moved from their cars before they go to school. The safety of all students is our top priority each and every day at Hays High School." Lt. Jeff Skroki, a spokesperson for the Hays County Sheriff's Office, said her of- fice is not pursuing any criminal charges against the students because law en- forcement has no jurisdiction since the weapons were in the vehicles in the park- ing lot, not on school premises. Texas Penal Code 46.035 defines "Premises" as a building or a portion of a building. The term does not include any public or private driveway, street, side- walk or walkway, parking lot, parking ga- rage, or other parking area. According to district officials, a secu- rity guard - one of several who regularly patrol the campus' parking lots using golf carts- saw spent shotgun shell casings in the bed of a pickup truck. The shotgun it- self was locked inside the truck's cab. The hunting knives were apparently in plain sight in another vehicle. Hays GISD officials said the weapons were found by security staff, not reported by other students. Based on district and campus rules, which are derived gfrom the Texas Edu- cation Code, an offense of this nature re- quires expulsion. Hays CISD spokesperson Tim Savoy said, "The punishment (from the school) is a mandatory expulsion, either to the Impact Center or home because of the weapons in the trucks. The number of days for the expulsion is at the discretion of the principal." Under the rules, Pierce can limit the number of days in Impact. Commenters on the Hays Free Press Facebook page responded on both sides of the issue. (See right) Regardless of any commenter's per- sonal history with the district, what ap- pears to be at issue is a rule was broken and a consequence should be given. Those who argue the rule should not be in place face stern rebuttal from those who say that rule is for the safety of all students and campus staff. But changing that rule in the current politically correct climate, says Buda resident Campbell Key, Sr., would likely be futile, or at minimum, face an uphill battle. For now, at least one student's family is working with a lawyer and district of- ficials to minimize the length of punish- ment. Parents have the right to protest such punishment, as Norma Mercado of Kyle did last fall when her son and an- other Lehman High School student went semi-streaking down the football field during the Lehman-Hays rival game. The students spent a night in jail. Prin- cipal Michelle Chae sent the students to Impact for 120 days. Mercado said she appealed to Chae, saying her son should have a conse- quence but that the length of time was not reasonable. Mercado said Chae re- duced the students' Impact time to 47 days. District officials say this incident is a teachable moment for parents. "I think the most important lesson is to be careful what you bring on cam- pus. Make sure you don't leave anything in your car that isn't allowed. State laws are very specific on what has to happen in situations involving school security," Savoy said. Hays Free Press Facebook ........... comments: Noel Rodriguez wrote, "RULES ARE RULES! School officials need to enforce them and disciplinary ac- tion should be taken, regardless of what season it is." "There is a place for weapons, and it isn't on a school campus brought in by students, that's how people have gotten injured and killed in the past. Yes there should be consequences! I have a child at that campus and I work for the school district and I believe in consequences!" wrote Kathy Singleton, who said she has a student at the school and is herself a district employee. Cristina lee Parker commented, "I'm all for guns and hunting.., but come on people! Guns are NOT al- lowed in school campus'! Rules are rules. And it's a good rule! (At least, parents, teach your chil- dren not to be stupid about it and leave weapons out where they can be seen.)." Mike Fulton wrote, "Zero toler- ance is a terrible policy. Laws have defenses built in because no 2 inci- dents are the same. Zero tolerance has brought us to the point where a kids punishment for bringing a Tylenol to school is the same as the punishment for bringing heroine to school. No reasonable person would think that makes sense." Bobby Doherty said, "When I was in High School at Hays we had shot guns in our gun racks everyday dur- ing dove season." Charles C. Chance responded, "Damn right we did Bobby... The principal even got jealous that we had nicer shotguns...." Former Hays High student John Turner echoed Doherty's comment, writing, "In 1987, we always had shot guns and rifles in our pickups gun rack at Hays. Crazy." SCHOOL BRIEFS District partners with H-E-B pharmacy for flu shots Just in time for flu sea- son, Hays CISD and H-E-B Pharmacy teamed up for flu shot clinics. Staff, families of staff, students with parents present, families of students, and extended families are welcome to attend these clinics. Anyone not able to come to a clinic at his/her home campus is welcome to attend one at another school. Bring insurance information and a printout of the form, available on the Hays CISD website. H-E-B will accept TRS, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Tricare, Humana, and Federal Insurance plans. If your plan does not cover the cost, the shot is $25 payable with cash or check. Each clinic will be open about an hour to an hour-and-a-half depending on demand. A schedule of clinic dates is available on the Hays CISD website. State hearings cover CSCOPE, graduation requirements and science textbooks The State Board of Educa- tion will hold several public hearings related to education this week; details on three are below: CSCOPE" A public hear- ing will be held at 1 p.m. on Sept. 13 in Room 1-111 of the William Travis Building, 1701 North Congress, in Austin, to review the much-debated CSCOPE Social Studies lesson plans. The hearing will start. Testimony from the public will be heard; witnesses are asked to limit their com- ments to specific recommen- dations regarding particular CSCOPE Social Studies lessons. Testimony will be limited to three minutes per witness. Science Textbooks: a public hearing will take place at 1 p.m. on September 17 in Room 1-104, Travis Building, 1701 North Congress, Austin, regarding science, math, and technology-applications text- books and other instructional materials. Witnesses are en- couraged to specify "content with which they have con- cerns about factual errors or TEKS coverage" - i.e., cover- age of content required for particular courses and grade levels by state curriculum guidelines (Texas Essen- tial Knowledge and Skills). Speakers will be limited to two minutes each. Graduation Require- ments: a public hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Sept. 17 in Room 1-104, Travis Build- ing, 1701 North Congress, in Austin, to obtain comments from educators and commu- nity members on graduation requirements to be estab- lished under HB 5 enacted earlier this year. Witnesses are urged to "submit specific suggestions as to the course offerings that will give school districts the flexibility man- dated in HB5 that is intended to meet all students' post- secondary goals." To study the new graduation scheme established by HB 5 and the issues to be resolved by the State Board rules, visit www. tea.state.tx.us/graduation. aspx. COMPOTERWERRS ADWARE SPYWARE MALWARE . VIRUSES On-Site Removal (requires broadband internet access) Norton Internet Security and Anti-Virus 2010 Mfr. Rebates Available to Previous Owners Jeff Shay REALTOR 512-423-9255 jeff@jeffseilstexas.com Each office is independently owned and operated To schedule an appointment, call 512-694-1746