Cobb school board to review rule modifications Thursday

Dec. 7—The Cobb County Board of Education is set to review five district rule modifications at its work session Thursday afternoon.

Two changes are to existing rules, concerning staff access to the district's new emergency system badges and employee transfers within the district. Three new policies deal with animals in schools, counseling programs and the Parents' Bill of Rights.

The codification of the Parents' Bill of Rights in the district's administrative rules comes after Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law the bill known by the same name in April.

Board Member Randy Scamihorn told the MDJ that the district is already in compliance with the state law, and will formalize it with the new policy.

"We've been doing it, I guess they're just going to codify it," Scamihorn said.

Board Member Brad Wheeler echoed Scamihorn's comments.

"Those are just pretty much updates that they've (district staff) changed things to comply with current standards," Wheeler said.

The rule allows parents to access their child's education records and learn more about instructional materials. It also gives parents the right to object to content "which the parent/legal guardian feels is divisive or harmful to minors" based on the district's Divisive Concepts Complaint Resolution Process, part of rules the district passed in June to fall in line with another law on divisive concepts signed by Kemp.

The new rule also allows parents the right to withdraw their children from sex education courses and prohibit the district from taking photographs and making video or voice recordings of their children, so long as parents provide written notices.

Revisions to the rule governing employee transfer could cause the most stir, according to Cobb County Association of Educators President Jeff Hubbard, who said the changes could make it harder for teachers to move around within the district.

"It actually appears that they're tightening some of the controls down in regards to when you can transfer and how you'd be eligible to transfer," Hubbard said. "The secondary part of that is that now, you're not going to be able to transfer until a job is actually posted, rather than just putting your name out there."

Hubbard also noted that employees will now be required to be at their present location of employment for a two-year minimum at the time of a transfer.

Another rule the board will review outlines a policy for animals in schools. It defines only dogs as service animals, though one section of the rule clarifies that "miniature horses" may be permitted "if the miniature horse has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of the individual with a disability."

Other sections of the rule address "emotional support/comfort animals," which "are not trained to perform a disability-specific task and are not Service Animals as defined by law or this rule," and "classroom pets," which the district says may be fish, parrots, reptiles, amphibians, hamsters and guinea pigs.

It was not clear whether the board would vote on the rule modifications, or if they were simply being briefed on them — district spokesperson Nan Kiel did not respond to an MDJ's inquiry by press time. Scamihorn said he did not think the board will vote on the rule modifications.

The Cobb school board will meet for its work session Thursday at 2:30 p.m. at 514 Glover St. in Marietta, and its voting meeting will be at 7 p.m. Thursday at the same location.