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Van-Far R-I School Board approves Title IX policy

Posted on Friday, October 30, 2020 at 8:12 pm

By Barry Dalton

The Van-Far R-I School Board approved a Title IX policy, bus routes and the resignation of high school baseball coach Parker Lawrence at its meeting on Thursday, Oct. 15.  

Title IX is a federal civil rights law signed by President Richard Nixon in 1972. This law protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance.

Parent Annie Wallace addressed the board regarding the importance of continuing student activities and communication during the pandemic and mental health. “We are worried about the physical well being of our kids and our staff, but everyone needs to take note quickly of the mental wellbeing of our kids,” Wallace said.

In the superintendent’s report, John Fortney said that the USDA is now funding free meals through June 2021. Fortney has contacted the Ministerial Alliance and let them know of the program, and he said that the district’s food service staff hopes to be able to increase the number of meals provided to children who take meals home on weekends. He also noted the following:

  • The district had 42 staff members participate in the flu shot program, and 170 students have signed up for flu shots on Oct. 29 or Nov. 5, Fortney said. 
  • Some students may be dropped from the virtual learning program due to noncompliance with homework and lack of communication with the district.
  • The cost to provide health insurance to bus drivers as a possible recruiting and retention tool is currently $62,160. This was informational not an action item at this board meeting.

Special Education Director Melissa Deimeke reported that special education teachers and case managers have completed a distance learning plan on all IEP students which was a huge undertaking. The plan will be used in case of school closures or student quarantines. 

The Van-Far School District received the highest rating on a scale of 1-4 for implementing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Deimeke reported.

As part of Disability Awareness Month, special education students have been painting Disability Awareness Rocks, Deimeke said, which will be hidden around the community for people to find and post a photo on Facebook. 

She also announced that the special education department has received a grant from the Ed French Foundation to continue Community Based Outings. 

Elementary Principal Brian Hummel reported that 26 students are enrolled in virtual learning. Students practiced earthquake drills on Oct. 15 for National Shake Out Day, he said, and school dental screenings will be completed Oct. 23. 

Junior/High School Principal Kim Pafford reported that the district has renewed its Head Strong Concussion insurance for student athletes. She said that dental screenings will also take place on Oct. 23 and that Georgia Coomer was selected as the district’s DAR Good Citizen.

In other reports, Transportation Director Charlie Stroker announced his plans to retire as director at the end of this school year, but he said plans to continue driving a bus. Board Member Kevin Motley gave a delegate report for the Missouri School Boards’ Association

Representatives from Byrne & Jones Sports Construction presented information regarding athletic field upgrades and a cooperative purchasing program.