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SRVUSD board wants more detail in minutes

Board members also discuss e-cigarette ban, nondiscrimination protections for gender expression

Residents can expect to see a little more detail in the minutes of San Ramon Valley school board meetings.

The Board of Education directed staff Tuesday to include in subsequent written minutes a summary of comments made by the public about topics on the agenda, as opposed to listing speakers' names and general statement about the issue -- which occurred in two recent sets of minutes.

"I think summarizing it in a sentence or two should be perfectly adequate," board president Rachel Hurd said during the meeting in Danville. "We're already doing, I think, what we're saying. It was just the particular meeting that was called out."

Board members were responding to a criticism resident Dan Boatwright recently made about the written minutes, which are part of the official record of what transpired at a given board meeting.

Boatwright specifically referenced the way in which comments he and nine other citizens made about the Common Core State Standards were described in the Dec. 10 minutes, which listed the speakers' names preceded by the statement, "The following community members voiced their opinions regarding Common Core."

The board unanimously approved those minutes in that form Jan. 14.

It wasn't until later in the Jan. 14 board meeting -- during the period for public comment on non-agendized items -- that Boatwright raised his concerns and argued that the minutes should have elaborated on each person's specific points of view.

"The minimum requirement is that minutes reflect the actions of the board … but I think a summary of what comments are made by the people that elected us and we represent, I think we're appropriate to have them in the minutes," board clerk Greg Marvel said Tuesday.

Board members spent much of their 10-minute discussion debating how in-depth the minutes should be, weighing issues such as staff time spent on transcribing lengthy meetings with many speakers. They ultimately directed staff to include a couple of sentences about the nature of each person's comments.

Boatwright did not attend Tuesday's meeting, and no members of the public spoke during the minutes discussion.

In other business, the board reviewed a series of proposed policy changes, including one set that would add electronic cigarettes and other similar products to the list of items prohibited on district property, at school-sponsored events and in students' possession.

The revisions are recommended in part "to combat the tobacco industry's efforts to get youth hooked on nicotine through e-cigarettes and e-hookah," according to district officials.

Staff also recommends modifying the policy on nondiscrimination at district programs and activities. Those changes would extend protections to cover gender identity or expression and genetic information, and would require instructional materials to be published in languages other than English when mandated by law.

The final set of changes would update and consolidate board policies and administrative regulations on employee recruitment and selection.

As part of the move, staff recommends eliminating the separate policy on affirmative action so there would be just a single policy addressing nondiscrimination and equal opportunity during the hiring process.

The three sets of proposed revisions were discussion-only topics Tuesday. Final votes are set for Feb. 11. District staff recommends the changes to reflect current laws, clean up language and align the policies with California School Boards Association models.

Board members followed through on policy reviews from their last meeting, voting unanimously to approve revisions in the areas of personnel concepts and roles, employees' oath or affirmation of allegiance, child-abuse reporting and the comprehensive local plan for special education.

The board also received a report on recent activities of the District Safety Committee and a presentation about programs, events and student performance at San Ramon's Twin Creeks Elementary School.

During open public comment, two mothers asked the board to look into ways to alleviate lengthy student drop-off and pickup times for parents whose children are diverted to schools outside of their neighborhood because of capacity issues. Marvel requested the issue be placed on a future agenda.

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