VALDOSTA -- Senate Bill 291, Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor's Student Code of Conduct Bill, was a major topic of discussion Monday night during the Valdosta Board of Education's monthly work session.

As stated in the bill, each local school system in the state of Georgia is required to include "comprehensive and specific provisions prescribing and governing student conduct and safety rules on all public school buses."

The Valdosta City School System's current bus conduct policy is general in nature and basically states that "students shall be under the control of the bus driver during the times they are being transported." It also includes guidelines for reporting misconduct, both minor and major.

Superintendent Sam Allen and board members discussed a proposed new policy, the first reading of which is scheduled during the board's meeting on Sept. 9 at 7 p.m. Senate Bill 291 would provide for the following additions to the system's current policy:

l Students shall be prohibited from acts of physical violence as defined by code section 20-2-751.6, bullying as defined by subsection (a) of code section 20-2-751.4, physical assault or battery of other persons on the school bus, verbal assault of other persons on the school bus, disrespectful conduct toward the school bus driver or other persons on the school bus, and other unruly behavior;

l Students shall be prohibited from using any electronic devices during the operation of a school bus, including but not limited to cell phones; pagers; audible radios, tape or compact disc players without headphones; or any other electronic device in a manner that might interfere with the school bus communications equipment or the school bus driver's operation of the school bus; and

l Students shall be prohibited from using mirrors, lasers, flash cameras, or any other lights or reflective devices in a manner that might interfere with the school bus driver's operation of the school bus.

Students who engage in such acts will be subject to repercussions as provided for by the code section. Provisions include assigned seating, ongoing parental involvement, and suspension from riding the bus.

Allen's proposed new policy also states that if a student is found to have engaged in bullying or in the physical assault or battery of another person on the school bus, a meeting will be scheduled between school officials and the student's parents or guardians.

For information or to obtain a copy of the proposed policy, please call the Valdosta City School System's Central Office at 333-8500.



To contact reporter Jessica Pope, please call 244-3400, ext. 255.



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