BELEN—The Belen Consolidated Schools Board of Education approved the district student handbook on Jan. 14, with an eye towards aligning it more closely with district policies and leaving enforcement procedures to the site administrators.
BCS Superintendent Diane Vallejos said there were a lot of new policies from the state after the 2019 legislative session that the district wanted to incorporate into the handbook.
“This is usually approved in the summer,” Vallejos said.
Rodney Wright, assistant superintendent of academics, said the revamp of the student handbook had multiple goals, one of which was to streamline the document.
“It’s been quite a while since there’s been an in-depth review,” Wright said. “A lot of the procedural language has been written into the handbook and we wanted to make it about policy not procedures, to let procedures happen at the school sites.”
Wright said the policy committee focused on directing the handbook back to and tying it closely to district policies.
“Some of the statements and information really aren’t tied to policies right now,” he said. “I’m guessing they were probably wishes of previous boards, what they wanted in the handbook.”
Vallejos said site teachers and administrators would have a procedure manual.
“If a student is in a fight, what do I do? If this, then that,” she said.
Wright said the student handbook is based on district policy and notes on multiple occasions that site principals may have additional or more stringent interpretations or expectations.
“For example, cell phone use. The expectations at an elementary school versus a middle school versus high school would probably be different,” he said. “The principals have some leeway. This is a foundation.”
Board president Jim Danner said the current draft of the student handbook was much better than previous versions.
“It aligns with policy but is within (the principals) guidelines,” Danner aid. “The principals need that autonomy.”
Vallejos said it was important to have the handbook based on and aligned with policy so parents didn’t think the district was “pulling it out of thin air.”
Wright said during the revisions, it was clear the policies in the student handbook hadn’t been updated in quite some time.
“This truly reflects the board policies as adopted,” he said.
Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.