Disciplinary update, 12/23
 
Dear Parents/Guardians,
 
As we prepare to start a much needed holiday break, I want to make sure you are aware of some key initiatives we have implemented on campus, as well as some that will begin when we return to school January 3, 2022. 
 
While it’s important to know that 95 percent of our students are regularly making good decisions, there are students struggling in that area. And, as a result, we are adjusting plans to address this behavior, particularly when it becomes disruptive to the educational process for other students. 
 
Consequences for Cutting Class
 
One of our biggest challenges in returning to full in-person learning is student engagement, which includes students who choose to cut class. While the numbers have improved since the start of the school year, it continues to be an area of concern given potential safety issues when students are not where they are supposed to be. We recently began a more severe crackdown on wandering students and class cutters, and this effort will continue after the new year. 
 
While this measure has been a successful endeavor, we have learned the majority of class cuts are being committed by the same group of students, and unfortunately the current consequences are not causing a substantive change in these students’ behavior. For this reason, starting Monday, January 3, ANY student found cutting class will automatically receive an out-of-school suspension. A second class cut will result in an additional school suspension, for a longer period of time. Please consider this message a written warning of the consequences for class cuts. 
 
While this is a drastic measure, wandering students are extremely disruptive to the learning environment and pose a safety risk. We must send a clear message to students – and parents – that school rules must be followed. We must also know where students are at all times. (*Suspended students will have access to their classwork through Google classroom.)
 
Mutual Respect
 
Mutual respect is fundamental in a school community, and we need to hold students accountable when that respect is broken. Students using abusive or foul language directed at any adult on campus will be suspended from school. 
 
Furthermore, inappropriate student-to-student interactions such as bullying or other conflicts will receive appropriate consequences as outlined in our student handbook, The Pilot. Physical interactions and acts of violence will result in the calling of the police, and almost always result in an expulsion from school. Our Deans, campus safety officers and student support teams will work together to assure a safe school environment for all students, faculty and staff. (*Expelled students will have access to their education through one of our alternative programs.)
 
Bathrooms
 
It is true that we have locked some of our bathrooms. It is also true that we have ‘locked open’ some bathroom doors. What is not true is that this is only impacting girls' bathrooms. What is also not true is that privacy is being infringed upon. The open doors allow for easier monitoring of group activity. Stalls are not visible and privacy is assured. While some may find this inconvenient, please understand that many students have complained about feeling uncomfortable in bathrooms with the shenanigans that have taken place. This is a temporary decision, and I encourage all students to promote proper behavior in the bathrooms so we can assure a safe environment for all. Once that happens, we will return to the previous bathroom protocols.
 
Interim Dean of Students
 
As we continue to work through disciplinary issues, I have appointed an Interim Dean of Students to assist with this process. Bryan Burdick, a member of our English Department, has begun working with our other two deans and members of our administrative team. He will be in this position full time through the end of the school year. We have made arrangements for his class load to be picked up by another member of our English Department. 
 
COVID Protocols
 
Like the community around us, we are seeing an increase in COVID activity, and we expect numbers to rise after the holiday break, too. If your student is vaccinated, please be sure we have a copy of that card on file. It’s an immense help during contact tracing. Images of their card can be sent to tavaresa@nfaschool.org. Secondly, if your student is sick (even if not specifically COVID-related), please keep them home. Sending students to school with any symptoms only increases our risk for exposure. It also puts an extra burden on our Medical Center. If you send a student in with multiple symptoms, we will be sending that student home. 
 
In a time where many schools across the nation face safety concerns, I am going to take the necessary measures to keep our students safe. Our support teams will be in place to work with students affected by this change. Furthermore, we will assess the data and review these new procedures on a weekly basis. I am confident these changes will affect positive change on our campus, and I appreciate your continued support. 
 
Sincerely,
 
Dr. Brian M. Kelly
Head of School/Superintendent