Strict Chaperone Policy Unveiled

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It will be all work and no party for school field trip chaperones under a proposed policy introduced by the Board of Education last night. And there’s going to be more work for teachers, too.

Verona parent chaperones would, for the first time, be explicitly prohibited from using alcohol, drugs or cigarettes during a field trip, and from bringing weapons. Alleged alcohol use by parents during the May 2012 fifth grade trip to Camp Bernie was one of the reasons for the new policy.

Chaperones would be assigned a specific group of pupils for trips, which may or may not include their own child. They will be expected to regularly take a head count and report inappropriate behavior by students, but not to discipline students. On overnight trips, chaperones will be assigned to a room or cabin and must stay there. They will be required to attend a pre-trip briefing, sign a code of conduct form and they may be subject to a background check.

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But the policy also introduces rules that were part of the BOE’s other piece of business last night–social media rules. Parent chaperones will be barred from taking photos or videos of other people’s children without the consent of their parents or the staff member in charge, and they may not post what the BOE called “any media or narratives” about the students or staff on the trip.

The policy outlines a series of responsibilities for teachers too. They would need to submit an application for the trip with details on its educational value and how they will prepare students for the learning on the trip.

Teachers would also have responsibility for picking chaperones. The policy says that, “Chaperones would be persons known to the staff member to be responsible, dependable and comfortble with children of the pupils’ age and maturity.” The teachers and principal will decide how many chaperones are needed per trip on a case by case basis.

Superintendent Steven A. Forte said that the chaperone policy was based on policies in force in other districts and those recommended by BOE attorney Strauss Esmay Associates. The Board will hold a second reading and vote on the policy at its September 25 meeting. The proposed policy is to be posted on the school district’s Web site today.

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citranohttps://myveronanj.com
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Forbes.com. Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected]

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