This month’s Plumas Unified School Board meeting was held at Greenville Jr./Sr. High School, offering a glimpse of the good work both students and administrators are doing there. Public input at the meeting touched on a number of important issues.
A GHS high school student asked that the board consider having an onsite school therapist at GHS once again. “I used her last year,” said the student. “It’s a safe place, free of judgment.”
She went on to say she and quite a few other students were really helped by having a therapist readily available at school.
“If something went on in class, and it negatively affected them, [they had a] safe place to go to appropriately express what they felt.”
Faith Strailey thanked the board and school district administration for their prompt response to a recent incident at Quincy High School. Because of this incident, she asked the board to consider altering the language in the policy on bullying.
The current policy defines bullying as an ongoing pattern of behavior. “It doesn’t have to be ongoing,” said Strailey. “It can happen once and can be devastating to a person.”
Later in the meeting, the board considered several policies for discussion and possible revision, including BP/AR 5131.2 Bullying. Discussion centered on the definition of bullying, which is at the heart of the policy: “Bullying is an unwanted, aggressive behavior . . . with the intent to cause emotional or physical harm . . . and involves repetition or potential repetition of a deliberate act.”
The board agreed with Strailey that a single act could be considered bullying. Superintendent Terry Oestreich said she’d be attending a meeting of principals and wanted their input on the bullying policy, and she wanted to reach out to the CSBA (California School Board Association). The board agreed not to vote on policy revisions until they heard back from Oestreich.
Wearing hats in the halls
Greenville High student Harlan Savala was on the agenda to address the board and give his perspective on the student dress code that forbids students to wear hats indoors. Savala was articulate and respectful, and his argument was well reasoned.
He stood at the podium where his hat sat as an example. He said he understood the district expecting students to take their hats off in class, as that is a matter of respect, and the flag is there. But, in the hallways, said Savala, “it defines who I am and it boosts my confidence.”
He said he didn’t want to have to go outside to wear it, since much of his and other students’ time is spent in the building. Savala had a page full of student signatures that he’d gotten to support his position.
When asked, newly appointed Greenville representative to the board, Ashlyn Bustamante, said she agreed with Savala. “I don’t see it as a big deal in the hallway,” said Bustamante, noting that students “want to have their own freedom outside the classroom.”
Board member Dwight Pierson commended Savala on his presentation. “You made a compelling case,” said Pierson, “and I appreciate you having the courage.”
Several board members did note, however, that meeting dress code expectations is something students could expect once they graduated from high school, and part of the board’s job was to prepare students for the “real world.”
Board member Jolene Cline said she was willing to look at the policy again, but that she expected her own employees to understand hats weren’t appropriate while they were working.
Leslie Edlund, board president, said she liked Savala’s approach. “You came up with a compromise,” she said. “I really appreciate that.”
And, finally, board member Dave Keller noted that he’s known Savala for four years. He put “a lot of time and energy into giving this presentation tonight,” said Keller. “It matters to him and his peers.”
The board agreed to bring this policy back for discussion at a future meeting.