State Board of Education taking up vaping regulations, anti-bullying recommendations

Two major challenges facing public schools will be worked on Tuesday by the State Board of Education.

The State Board will act on recommendations from the E-Cigarette/Vaping Task Force and receive recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Bullying.

Here is a link to the board’s agenda and backup documents. The board meeting will be streamed live at this link. The vaping discussion is expected to start around 11:25 a.m. and the bullying discussion at 2:10 p.m.

After the board meeting, KASB will conduct a video interview with the bullying task force co-chairs — Dr. Rick Ginsberg, dean of the College of Education at the University of Kansas, and James Reiger, superintendent of Remington-Whitewater USD 206, and Donna Whiteman, KASB general counsel assistant executive director policy services, who served on the task force. That interview will be made available later this week.

Earlier this month, the task force finalized its report, offering a wide range of recommendations aimed at helping schools reduce bullying.

Among the major recommendations are:

— Better support and direction for school districts. A statewide unit should be established to offer guidance and support to school districts as they implement policies, plans and training. A bank of promising practices needs to be collected and available for school districts.

— Continue and develop the state’s focus on social-emotional and character development education to address school bullying. Resources and supports on these initiatives need to be shared through better communication efforts.

— The State Board of Education should examine the current state law on bullying and determine if it requires changes and provide guidance.

— Local policies and plans must focus on relationships, school climate and culture, and the mental health impact of bullying in schools. Schools should strive to have at least the minimum recommended ratio of 1 to 250 school counselors and or social workers to students and a ratio of 1 to 500-700 school psychologists to students.

— The state needs better data on school bullying and measures for assessing program effectiveness. Improvements are recommended for the KCTC survey and school climate and teacher surveys should be considered to determine which bullying programs are evidence-based.

— Districts need to consider specific policies regarding cyberbullying and work with teachers, students, families, caregivers and technology/social media experts in finding effective ends for addressing this behavior.

— Training for in-service teachers and pre-service teachers on issues related to bullying and youth suicide prevention is recommended. The most promising practices to impact bullying behavior are those that are school-wide, universal and involve parents and families.

On vaping, the board will consider a policy that prohibits the use, possession and promotion of any tobacco product, including e-cigs, by any student or staff at school, school district property or at any school-related activity. The prohibition on product use would be extended to any parent, volunteer, contractor or visitor to a school property or school-related event.

Officials also are considering possible legislation when the 2020 session starts Jan. 13 that would raise the minimum legal age to purchase any tobacco product from 18 to 21. Also in the works are bills to prohibit vaping in workplaces and public areas, banning certain e-liquid flavors and raising taxes on tobacco products.

In other business, the board will:

— Recognize Kansas’ 2019 National Blue Ribbon Schools. They are Central Plains Elementary School, Central Plains USD 112; Clear Creek Elementary School, De Soto USD 232; Corinth Elementary School, Shawnee Mission USD 512; Kathryn O’Loughlin McCarthy Elementary School, Hays USD 489, Lakewood Elementary School, Blue Valley USD 229, and Holy Rosary-Wea Catholic School, Bucyrus;

— Hear an update on computer science standards;

— Consider recommendations on at-risk practices and receive report from the Special Education Transition Work Group and proposed revisions to the definition of Extraordinary Enrollment Growth.

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