Legal Requirements

  • ANIMAL DISSECTION

    In compliance with 16 VSA, §912 “Pupil Right to Refusal: Animal Dissection Law,” any EWSD student has the right to be excused from participating in any lesson, exercise, or assessment requiring the student to dissect, vivisect, or otherwise harm or destroy an animal or any part of an animal to observe any of these activities, as part of a course or instruction. Any EWSD student and parent/guardian may exercise this right by completing the Opt-Out Form at the school’s main office. EWSD schools will provide alternative education methods for those students who choose to opt out of these activities so they may learn and be assessed upon the curriculum material. The Opt-Out Form must be completed within two weeks from the first day of school (or within the first two weeks of enrollment), or the student will be deemed to have opted-in to participation in course requirements.

    Alternative Education Method: A student who is excused under this policy shall be provided with alternative methods through which they can learn and be assessed on material required by the course. The alternative methods shall be developed by the teacher of the course, in consultation with the principal if necessary.

    Discrimination: No student shall be discriminated against based on their decision to exercise the right to be excused afforded by this policy.


    ASBESTOS HAZARD EMERGENCY RESPONSE ACT (AHERA)

    The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) requires written notice be given to workers and building occupants, or their legal guardians, that all schools have Management Plans for the safe control and maintenance of asbestos-containing materials found in their buildings. These Management Plans are available and accessible to the public at the main office of each school facility. The Property Services Director is the EWSD designated person for AHERA requirements. Currently, no AHERA work is in progress in any EWSD location. This notification is required per 40 CFR §763.93(g)(4).


    EQUAL ACCESS AND PUBLIC ACCESS

    EWSD and its member districts will not discriminate against any person or group on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), ancestry, national origin, place of birth, sex, sexual orientation, disability, age, gender identity, marital status, or any other legally protected status under federal or state law. Appropriate measures will be taken within the context of per Vermont’s Public Accomodation Act, 9 V.S.A. 4500 et seq., Title VI, Title IX and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 guidelines and regulations to insure such compliance. 

    The board, in compliance with Title VI, Title IX, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, affirms:

    1. The right of all students to equal treatment (including aid, benefits, services, and application of rules and regulations) without regard to gender.
    2. The right of every student to access all courses with regard to gender.
    3. That no student will be excluded on the basis of gender from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination in Health and Physical Education programs.
    4. That no student will be excluded on the basis of gender from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination in athletics, intramural, or co-curricular activities.
    5. That no student shall be excluded on the basis of gender from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination in vocational programs and activities.
    6. The rights of all students to equal treatment without regard to marital or parental status.
    7. The right of every student to counseling without regard to gender, and with non-discriminatory counseling instruments/materials.


    Grievance Procedure: In the event a student, parent/guardian, or employee believes there is a basis for a grievance regarding equal educational opportunities, that person shall follow the procedures outlined below:

    • Step 1:The person who believes there is a basis for a grievance regarding equal educational opportunities will present the alleged grievance in writing on a standard form supplied by the EWSD office to the building principal or immediate supervisor within ten (10) workdays following the time when the aggrieved reasonably should have gained knowledge of its occurrence. The principal or immediate supervisor will attempt to resolve the grievance, and will respond within five (5) workdays following receipt of the completed form.
    • Step 2: If the action of Step 1 fails to resolve the grievance to the satisfaction of the affected party, the aggrieved will, within five (5) workdays, submit such grievance in writing to the Superintendent or designee. The Superintendent or designee will reply in writing within five (5) workdays after the initial presentation of the grievance.
    • Step 3: If the action of Step 2 fails to resolve the grievance to the satisfaction of the aggrieved party, the aggrieved part will, within five (5) workdays after receiving the written reply from the Superintendent or designee, submit such grievance to the member district school board for resolution. The member district school board will review the grievance and hold a hearing, if necessary, within twenty (20) workdays after receipt of the Step 2 response. The member district school board will reply to the grievance in writing within five (5) workdays thereafter, and the decision of the school board will be final. Reprisals taken by the member district school board or any of its members as a result of a grievance decision will be grievable.
    • Step 4:The aggrieved party has the right to bypass the grievance procedure and make the complaint directly with federal officials. However, it is suggested the aggrieved parties follow the procedure as outline above. If the aggrieved party follows the grievance procedure and the grievance is not resolved, the party may then direct their complaint to the Office of Civil Rights or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Contact information for the EEOC can be found at: www.eeocoffice.com/vermont-eeoc-offices.

    ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNER (ELL) PROGRAM

    The Essex Westford School District is committed to supporting the academic and social needs of all English Language Learners (ELL) attending our schools and ensuring that ELL students can participate meaningfully and equally in educational programs. An ELL student is a student with a home language other than English and who is limited English language proficient based on results from an English language proficiency assessment approved by the state of Vermont. Historically terms have been used to describe the ELL students, including English as a Second Language (ESL), Limited English Proficiency (LEP), English Learner (EL) and English Language Program (ELP). The Essex Westford School District ELL Program is inclusive of students who fall into all of these categories.

    Students are determined to be eligible for ELL Services through a screening and identification process and outlined by specific exit and entry requirements established by the Vermont Agency of Education.

    At the time of registration, parents/guardians of each new student will complete the state required VT Primary/ Home Language Survey. If any other language is indicated on the Survey, the ELL teacher assigned to that school is notified and provided with a copy of the survey.

    The ELL teacher assigned to the student’s school will review the survey, conduct any necessary interview and/or testing, and complete the EWSD Screening Form for English Language Learner (ELL) Student Identification.

    If it is determined that this student is an ELL student, the ELL teacher will develop an ELL Student Service Plan which outlines the nature and frequency of ELL services provided to the student that year. The service plan will be revisited throughout the year and may be revised to meet the changing needs of the student. Parents/guardians will receive notification of assessment results and ELL status determination, as well as a copy of the ELL Student Service Plan (if applicable). Parents will be given an opportunity to ask questions or share their concerns.

    Based on the screening and identification process, ELL students fall into one of three categories:

    • Current ELL – An ELL student who qualified and is receiving services
    • Monitoring – An ELL student who has passed the ACCESS test must be, per VT regulations, monitored by a qualified ELL teacher for two years prior to fully exiting the program. Students are listed as Monitoring Year 1 (MY1) or Monitoring Year 2 (MY2). During this time, ELL teachers will review student academic records, assessment results and consult with teachers to ensure that the student’s academic progress is not being hindered by language proficiency.
    • Exited – Following two years of monitoring, an ELL students will exit the ELL program.

    FAMILY EDUCATIONAL RIGHTS PRIVACY ACT (FERPA) NOTIFICATION

    Policy C1 Student Records - FERPA affords parents and students over 18 years of age ("eligible students") certain rights with respect to the student’s education records:

    1. The right to inspect and review the student’s education records within 45 days of the day the school receives a request for access. EWSD will assume that either parent has the right to inspect, review, and release the student’s records unless evidence is provided demonstrating there is a legally binding instrument or court order providing the basis for specifically excluding a parent from such areas.
    2. The right to request the amendment of the student’s education records the parent or eligible student believes is inaccurate or misleading.
    3. The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the student’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent. One exception permitting disclosure without consent is disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests. A school official is a person employed by the school as an administrator, supervisor, instructor or support staff member (including health or medical staff and law enforcement unit personnel); a person serving on the school board; a person or company with whom the school has contracted to perform a special task (such as an attorney, auditor, medical consultant, or therapist); or a parent or student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another school official in performing their tasks. Upon request, the school discloses education records without consent to officials of another school district in which a student seeks or intends to enroll. The school will also release student records without prior consent or authorization under certain other exceptions, including: government officials and authorities as required by law, in health and safety emergencies, in connection with the application and receipt of financial aid, and (if required by state law) to accrediting organizations carrying out their official functions and to comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena after having made a reasonable effort to notify the parent or eligible student of the order or subpoena. Student information is provided to the State of Vermont concerning certain incidences of discipline and student behavior, including: bullying, harassment, physical restraint, suspension, and long-term suspension.
    4. The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the school to comply with the requirements of FERPA. The name and address of the office administering FERPA is Family Policy Compliance Office Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C., 20202-4605.
    5. The district has determined that student directory information is not harmful or an invasion of privacy, and therefore will release this information without first obtaining parent consent or prior authorization. The purpose of releasing such information is to enable the district to publish newsletters, yearbooks, directories, and similar publications, and to release information to media outlets concerning student academic and athletic achievements. The following directory information may be released or posted online (via the district website or EWSD social media accounts), or used in district publications, as stated above, without obtaining parental/guardian consent: student’s name, parent’s/ guardian’s names, address, telephone number, email address, date and place of birth, grade level, field of study, enrollment status (e.g. full-time or part-time), participation in officially recognized activities and sports including audiovisual or photographic records of the openly visibly activities thereof (e.g. artistic performances, sporting contests, assemblies, service projects, awards ceremonies, etc.), weight and height of members of athletic teams, dates of attendance, degrees, honors and awards received, most recent previous school attended and photographs (including video) of regular school activities that do not disclose specific academic information about the student and/or would not be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy.
    6. If a parent/guardian, person acting as a student’s parent/guardian, or the student (if 18 or older) does not want the district to release the directory information listed below, they must notify the district in writing within 10 days of receiving this document that they don’t want directory information released. A non-disclosure form is part of each student’s Biographical Verification Form (BVD) at the beginning of the school year. If no written request is received in a timely manner, the school will disclose directory information without prior consent. Military recruiters and institutions of higher education are entitled under federal law (NCLB) to a list of names, addresses, and telephone numbers of high school students unless parents/guardians object to such release. If you parents/guardians notify the school principal in writing of their wish to not release their student’s name, address and telephone number to recruiters and institutions of higher education, the school will honor the request at that time.
    7. Lists of student names and other directory information will not be made available except to school-related organizations, such as the PTO, at the discretion of the principal. Lists of such directory information are also provided to military recruiters and institutions of higher education.

    HIGHLY QUALIFIED TEACHERS (HQT)

    In compliance with the requirements of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law, parents/ guardians are entitled to request information about the professional qualifications of their student`s teacher for the current school year. The following information may be requested:

    • Certification(s)
    • College major/graduate certification or degree held by the teacher
    • Qualifications of the paraprofessional (if paraprofessional are provided)

    Families seeking information of their student`s teacher`s qualifications should contact the school principal.


    HOMELESSNESS

    Students and families can become homeless for a number of reasons. The U.S. Department of Education defines homeless youth as youth who “lack a fixed, regular, and nighttime residence” or an “individual who has a primary nighttime residence that is

    1. a supervised or publicly operated shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations;
    2. an institution that provides a temporary residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized including welfare hotels, congregate shelters, and transitional housing for the mentally ill; or c) a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings.”


    Students and families experiencing homelessness can find support and have their questions answered by calling 802-878-8168 and speaking to one of the homelessness liaisons in the central office.

    Students experiencing homelessness are eligible for free and reduced lunch, academic intervention (if needed) and support with school supplies or other needs associated with school participation.

    Students have the ability to maintain enrollment in the school of attendance during their period of homelessness as outlined in federal law. Student can also enroll in the school district where they are staying during their period of homelessness. The homeless liaison will review each case, consider the student’s needs, discuss the need for transportation to and from school in order to maintain attendance and school participation.

    Homelessness is not a barrier to school attendance and we have supports in place to help students and families who are experiencing this circumstance. We are here to help!


    MANDATORY REPORTING

    We are committed to the safety and welfare of each student under our care. Under State law and EWSD policy, school personnel are mandatory reporters and are required to report suspected abuse or neglect to the Department of Children and Families (DCF) within 24 hours. School personnel are mandated to report all suspected cases of abuse or neglect to DCF.

    Schools work with Child Protection Teams (which include the school nurse, principal, guidance counselor, classroom teacher, and other designated school personnel). These teams meet routinely to review the safety and well-being of students.


    NON-DISCRIMINATION STATEMENT

    The EWSD is committed to providing all of its students, employees, families and visitors with a safe and supportive school environment in which all members of the school community are treated with respect and are free from discrimination of any kind. EWSD prohibits the unlawful discrimination of students, employees, families and visitors based on their actual or perceived race, age, color, religion, creed, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability and any other protected class under federal or Vermont law. EWSD shall uphold the requirements of Vermont’s Public Accommodations Act, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, and Title IX of the federal Education Amendments Act of 1972.

    Applicants for admission, employment, services and facilities are hereby notified that EWSD does not discriminate on the basis of any person’s actual or perceived race, age, color, religion, creed, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability and any other protected category under federal or Vermont law in admission or access to, or treatment of, or employment in, it’s programs and activities.

    The following person has been designated by EWSD to coordinate efforts to comply with the regulations implementing Title VI, Title IX, and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973:

    Paul O’Brian
    51 Park Street
    Essex Junction, VT 05452
    Phone: (802) 857-7038
    Fax: (802) 878-1370


    PRIVACY RIGHTS AND STUDENT SURVEYS

    Surveys and evaluations can be a valuable resource for schools and communities in determining student needs for educational services. Surveys and evaluations are often essential to help schools determine where to focus instruction and resources to better help our students. EWSD schools will notify parents/guardians when a planned survey, analysis or evaluation will be conducted. Parents/guardians have the right to opt their student out of participating in certain surveys, as listed below.

    Right to Opt-Out: Parents/guardians shall have the right to opt-out of participation in the administration of any survey which reveals information concerning on or more of the following topics. Additionally, no student shall be required, without parental/guardian consent, to take part in a survey, analysis, or evaluation funded by the U.S. Department of Education that reveals:

    • Political affiliations or beliefs of a student or student’s parents/guardians
    • Mental or psychological problems of a student or student’s family
    • Sexual behavior or attitudes
    • Illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, and demeaning behavior
    • Critical appraisals of other individuals with whom student respondents have close family relationships
    • Legally recognized privileged or analogous relationships, such as those of lawyers, physicians, or members of the clergy
    • Income (other than that required by law to determine eligibility for participation in a program for receiving assistance under such program)
    • Religious practices, affiliations, or beliefs of the student or the student’s parents/guardians


    Parents/guardians, or students 18 years or age or older, have the right to “opt-out” of the following activities:

    • The collection, disclosure and use of personal information gathered from students for the purpose of marketing or selling that information. This does not apply to the collection, disclosure or use of personal information collected from students for the exclusive purpose of developing, evaluating, or providing educational services for, or to students, such as: college or other postsecondary education recruitment, or military recruitment; book clubs, magazines, and programs providing access to low cost literary products; curriculum and instructional materials used in schools; tests and assessments; student recognition programs; and the sale by students of products or services to raise funds for school-related activities.
    • The administration of surveys that include the subject areas listed above.
    • The administration of any non-emergency, invasive physical examination or screening that is required as a condition of attendance, administered by the school that is not necessary to protect the immediate health or safety of a student or other students, and otherwise not permitted or required by state law.


    Right to Inspection: Parents/guardians shall have the right to inspect any survey created by a third party before the survey is administered or distributed to a student. Requests for inspection shall be in writing, and shall be made in sufficient time to allow a response at least two weeks in advance of any survey given. Parents/guardians shall have the right to inspect, upon request, any instructional material used as part of the educational curriculum. Tests or academic assessments or evaluations are not instructional materials.


    RESIDENCY

    Under Vermont law, the school a student attends is determined by where parents/guardians reside. At least one parent/guardian must reside in the district in order for their student(s) to attend school in that district. Verification of residency is required. Misrepresentation of residency is a violation of state law.

    Notification is required if residency changes during the school year. Any non-residents are required to pay tuition.

    Students and parents who are, or may be experiencing, homelessness should refer to the section on Homelessness in this handbook for assistance and guidance.