School officials discuss updates to BBHHS student handbook

by Dan Holland

A yearly review and update of the Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School student handbook was conducted at a March 11 meeting at the school media center consisting of administration, teachers, students and parents.

A survey requesting additional input was subsequently sent to the school’s student government adviser to be shared during a student government meeting.

Assistant Principal Joshua Backo chairs the committee and was assisted by social studies teacher Nate Elliott, who is vice-chair.

“We don’t necessarily go through the entire book and make changes; it’s one of those things where we try to focus on a few areas each year to update items,” said Backo. “We especially focus on any terms or practices that are outdated. Our board policy has us gather a committee of teachers, faculty, students and parents to discuss what makes sense moving forward and what best serves our students’ needs.

 “I look at our handbook for areas that we think might need updating, or things that don’t make sense anymore; where we could change a policy to make it a little bit better,” he continued. “We took the topics, put them in a document and submitted the sections to the handbook and sent that out to our committee members before we got together.”

Topical sections of the handbook covered this year included: student expectations, class additions/drops, satisfactory/unsatisfactory option “pass/fail,” tardiness to school, food and beverages in the building, interscholastic extracurricular eligibility, student privilege and open campus eligibility, elevator use, leaving the building and electronic devices.

The review document states that “the committee will review each section with the intention of making sure the content contained within them is fair, relevant, and clearly stated so that it will make sense to all students, parents, staff members and other stakeholders.”

The committee considers whether a policy is still applicable and enforceable, with adequate resources to do so, as written in the handbook, said Backo. Some policies recommended for updating this year included use of electronic devices, food consumption and open campus being extended to sophomores.

“With the electronic device policy, it talks about pagers, which are not used anymore – something buried in there,” he said. “MP3 players, iPods and CD players were also listed. There are a number of little things like that that needed to be cleaned up and made more clear.”

“We thought it fair to allow our 10th-graders to have that (open campus policy) as well,” said Backo. “A lot of our 10th-grade students on student government at this time of the year are telling us they should have it, because they have their driver’s license now, and it makes it easier to get to and from school. It was a good change we made last year to restrict some of that and heap them into that policy.”

“And that (change) does help at our end with managing traffic flow, which seems to be a problem with everyone coming all at once in the morning and leaving together at the end of the day,” added Elliott. “This is one of the ways that helps with that substantially.”

Other policies were set in place during the Covid-19 pandemic, such as food consumption in the cafeteria only, Backo explained. “It was important to restrict food consumption to the cafeteria for health reasons,” he said. “But now, with the way our schedule works, students may only have a 15- or 20-minute lunch scheduled in, because they’re taking a heavy course load and don’t have study hall. So there are times when teachers will allow them to bring food into a certain classroom.”

All changes require approval by the board of education, a process that typically takes place in May for the following school year, said Backo. The handbooks are no longer printed, as the information can be accessed on the BBHCSD website, he added.

“We really want to allow all stakeholders to have their say, where everyone is able to give input at all levels, including students, parents, teachers, bus drivers, staff, PSO groups – we want everyone to have input so we’re able to come to an understanding on whether we need to change a specific policy and come to an agreement on it,” said Elliott. ∞