Background Check Guidelines for Volunteers

We are very fortunate in the Reading Public Schools to have numerous volunteers who offer their time in a variety of ways. Recently, state regulations were passed which introduce national criminal background checks, as well as, CORI checks for all employees and for volunteers who have direct and unsupervised contact with students. Beginning on October 15th, any volunteer who has direct and unsupervised contact with students at any after school activity or overnight field trip will be required to have both a national criminal background check (SAFIS) and a CORI check. All volunteers, regardless of their activity will continue to have a CORI check.

The guidelines for conducting the national fingerprinting criminal background check is attached. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact your child’s building principal or the Reading Public Schools administration offices.

Thank you and have a great day.

 

SAFIS Memo for volunteers

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Opening Remarks to Staff

On Monday, August 25, Reading Public School staff returned in preparation for the 2014-15 school year.  These two days prior to students returning focused on meetings with teachers, administrators, and staff, as well as, time to prepare classrooms and schools.  This time without students is critical to ensure a smooth transition for students when they arrived on Wednesday.

As part of these two days, the entire staff gathered on Monday morning for fellowship and to hear opening remarks from RMHS Senior John Hand, School Committee Chair Chris Caruso, Reading Teachers Association President Christine Copeland, and Superintendent of Schools John Doherty.  The remarks focused on the transformation that is currently occurring in public education and the need to change the structures and the use of professional learning time to address those changes and to focus the professional learning on improving student achievement.  Staff left inspired and eager to begin the 2014-15 school year.

To conclude his remarks, Superintendent of Schools John Doherty played a slide show of memories from the 2013-14 school year.  We share this slide show with you as a celebration of last year and our goal of creating even more positive memories for the 2014-15 school year.  Have a great start to the 2014-15 school year!

i-am-here2

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School Safety Letter

Dear Reading Public School Families:

I hope that you and your family have had a great start to the 2014-15 school year.  Recently, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick released the Massachusetts Task Force Report on School Safety and Security.  During the summer, Superintendent of Schools John Doherty, Police Chief James Cormier, Fire Chief Greg Burns, and Town Manager Robert LeLacheur met to discuss the contents of the report and to assess where the Reading Public Schools were in relation to the recommendations by the Task Force.  Our community is fortunate in that there is a tremendous working relationship between the School Department, Town Government, and the Reading Police and Fire Departments.  In addition, members of the District Wide Safety Committee met to implement specific recommendations of the report.

Overall, we are pleased to announce that we are following a significant percentage of the recommendations outlined in the report.  There are always areas that we can improve upon and we have already begun working on those areas.  During this past school year, we have updated and revised our safety and emergency plans, including the implementation of a new enhanced lockdown process called ALICE.  As part of those plans, we would like to inform you of some specific guidelines that will affect you and your child. Attending to your child’s safety in school is of greatest importance to our school district. Our response procedures are reviewed regularly so that we can make prompt and responsible decisions in the event of an emergency. The purpose of this letter is to review some of our routine procedures. Please read this information so that you will be aware of our safety efforts, and know what you should do in case of emergency.

Please help us in the following ways:

  • Keep medical information on file for your child up-to-date. It is very important that you notify the school nurse of any health or medication changes.
  • Keep all emergency contact information current, and inform the school secretary if there are changes in your cell, office or home phone numbers.
  • Register for your family District Edline account so that you may access this site for information if needed, and make sure that your email address is up-to-date.
  • During an emergency, please do not call the school. Telephone lines need to be kept open for emergency calls. We will keep you notified through our Blackboard Connect and Edline notification systems.
  • Cooperate with visitor sign-in and identification procedures at all times. When you enter any of our schools, please go to the Main Office.  A member of our staff will be there to assist you.
  • In an emergency situation, do not immediately drive to the school. Access routes may not be open, and additional traffic will interfere with safety procedures and put students at risk. Refer to the listed radio and television stations and our Connect Ed message system for instructions and emergency information.
  • Please have your family review and practice responses to emergency situations at home, including instructions that your child should following the event of an early dismissal if you are not at home.

Off-Site Evacuation/Dismissal Policy:

In an extreme emergency when a school has been evacuated and it is not possible to return, an off-site meeting place may be needed. Parents will be directed (through BLACKBOARD CONNECT and Edline) to go to a designated reunification center in the community. The Superintendent, with public safety personnel, will determine the location that best meets the needs of the specific emergency, and staff will be on site to assist with dismissal procedures using the following guidelines:

  • No student will be dismissed from a primary or secondary evacuation site unless a parent (or individual designated by a parent on the Pupil Information Card) comes for him/her and is able to present photo ID upon request.
  • All parents or designated persons who come for students will be required to sign out at the front office (or from a designated alternate release location in certain emergencies).
  • In addition to the above notification sources, signs will be posted if an alternate location is needed.

Throughout the school year your child will be trained in emergency procedures.  Each school will have at least four fire drills, 2 enhanced lockdown drills (A.L.I.C.E), and 1 shelter in place drill.  Schools may have a full school evacuation drills this year to an offsite location.  Our secondary schools may have a canine search of lockers, public areas, some classrooms, and the parking lot as part of the School Committee Search Policy.  She/he will learn how to react, where to assemble, and what to expect in an emergency situation. While it can be unsettling to think about situations that require emergency response, frequent review and practice will reduce hazards and help everyone to be prepared in an actual event.

HEALTH, SAFETY AND EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS:

In an emergency, we will make every effort to keep you informed so that you will understand the situation, what is being done in response, and any instructions for families. Information will be disseminated in many ways, including:

When providing phone numbers for emergency contact, please provide us with phone numbers without extensions If possible, list only lines and cell phones that will be answered by you or a person that you have authorized to pick up your child in an emergency. Be sure to inform your co-workers if you have listed your place of employment as an emergency contact number, and inform the school(s) if any of your contact information changes throughout the year.

EVACUATION:

The need to evacuate students from a building before the regularly scheduled dismissal time could arise from a relatively minor incident such as a power failure, or from a major event such as fire or bomb threat. During evacuation, students are guided to the nearest exit and assemble at an established location. Communication into the school, dismissal times and transportation may be temporarily disrupted. Families will receive information and instructions from the listed communication sources.

ENHANCED LOCKDOWN OR SHELTER-IN-PLACE:

Enhanced Lockdown (A.L.I.C.E.) or shelter-in-place is implemented when it has been determined that conditions outside of the classroom or building are potentially unsafe. Situations that may activate an enhanced lockdown/sheltering response include a hazardous materials situation near the school, police activity close by, or potential intruder alerts. While enhanced lockdowns are extremely rare, enhanced lockdown drills are conducted periodically to ensure that staff members and students are prepared to respond confidently and calmly. During an enhanced lockdown drill, as with an actual event, students and staff remain quietly in a designated location within the room or are guided to a secure location either inside or outside of the school to wait for the “All Clear” signal.  It is possible, based on the situation, that students will evacuate the school the school to a predetermined location. It is not possible for anyone to enter or exit the building until an “All Clear” signal is given by the principal or public safety official. Information concerning the lockdown is given to families through the listed communication sources.

EARLY OR DELAYED DISMISSAL DUE TO INCLEMENT WEATHER:

In severe weather or similar emergencies when travel conditions are expected to deteriorate, it may be necessary to take the precaution of an early dismissal, or to delay dismissal until conditions improve. You will be informed of modified dismissal times through the communication sources listed above.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact your building principal or the Reading Public Schools Administrative Offices.

Have a healthy, safe, and productive school year.

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Welcome to the 2014-15 School Year!

Dear Reading Public School Families:

I hope that you had an enjoyable summer.  Welcome to the 2014-15 School Year!  We hope that your child’s transition back to school was a smooth one.  If it was not, please do not hesitate to contact your child’s teacher(s) or building principal with any questions on concerns that you may have.    

Each year, we are required by Federal, State, and local laws to distribute certain informational flyers which are meant to inform you about your rights and your child’s rights in a public school setting.   In addition, we distribute pupil information cards and other forms which you are required to complete and update.  These forms are important because they provide us with contact and medical information in case of an emergency, as well as, permissions that allow your child to fully participate in educational activities.  

In order to conserve paper, we are only distributing to you in paper format the information that you either need to complete and return, or is required by law or school committee policy for us to distribute by paper.  Those forms are located on the Edline site if you did not receive them from your child last week.  Please complete the required attached forms and return them to your child’s school no later than Friday, September 5th.  

In addition, some informational flyers will not be distributed by paper and will also be posted on the link above. The folder is called “First Day Fliers” and is located under the District Info tab on the top of our newly designed district Edline page.  If you would prefer to have a paper copy of these flyers, please contact Linda Engelson, the Administrative Assistant for the Superintendent, at 781-944-5800 or by email at linda.engelson@reading.k12.ma.us.

Please take a few moments to read these important fliers:

  1. School Committee Policy ACAB/ACAC on Harassment, Discrimination, Bullying and Hazing (On Edline site)-This policy has been updated to reflect the new Massachusetts Anti-Bullying and Gender Equity Laws. 
  2. Notification of Rights under FERPA-This letter describes the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)     which affords parents and students over 18 years of age certain rights with respect to the student’s education needs. This has been updated since last year.
  3. Directory Information-FERPA requires that the Reading Public Schools, with certain exceptions, obtain your written consent prior to the disclosure of personally identifiable information from your child’s education records.  However, the Reading Public Schools may disclose appropriately designated “directory information” without written consent unless you have advised the District to the contrary.  This letter describes the directory information and the process and has been updated since last year.
  4. Notification of Rights Under the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA)-This letter explains the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA), which affords parents certain rights regarding our conducting of surveys, collection and use of information for marketing purposes, and certain physical exams. 
  5. Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) and Children Families and Protection Act-This letter outlines procedures to notify parents and faculty under the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) and the Children Families and Protection Act (Use of Pesticides).
  6. Acceptable Use Policy and Internet Safety Agreement for Students-This document explains in detail the Reading Public Schools Acceptable Use Policy and Internet Safety Agreement for Students.  Parents should read this policy carefully with their child and sign on the Pupil Emergency Card.  This document has been updated to reflect the changes that have occurred in the cyberbullying aspect of the Massachusetts Anti-bullying law.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Superintendent’s Office (781-944-5800) or your child’s school.  We look forward to working with you and educating your child during this upcoming school year.

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Lida Winfield presents “In Search of Air: Growing Up Dyslexic”

On Wednesday, April 16th at 7:00 p.m. in the William E. Endslow Performing Arts Center at RMHS, don’t miss Lida Winfield’s moving one-hour performance based on her experience growing up with a learning disability.  In this unique presentation, dancer, choreographer, spoken word artist, and educator, Lida Winfield shares the gift and heartache that accompanied her struggle to read, which did not occur until her early twenties.  This innovative performance is a mixture of funny, sad, and ironic vignettes woven together in a creative and captivating format that explores the issues of disability, access, and the value of hands on learning.  Lida’s presence on stage clearly expresses her life experiences in order to bring us closer to our own and to those of the students in our schools.  Lida is currently touring her performance In Search of Air: Growing up Dyslexic to many universities and education conferences around the country.  Her poignant performances invariably cause her audience to laugh and cry, sometimes simultaneously.

Please join us for this community presentation!

LidaWinfield Poster community performance

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A Celebration of the Arts

This week, the Reading Public Schools will be showcasing student art work and performances during the 7th annual Arts Fest.  This annual event will be held on Wednesday, April 9th from 5:30-8:00 p.m. and Thursday, April 10th from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Main Street and the William E. Endslow Performing Arts Center at Reading Memorial High School.  The schedule of the performances can be found here.

All performances are free to the public.  If you have any questions, please contact the Reading Public Schools Administration Offices at 781-944-5800.  We hope to see you there!

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Director of Student Services Update

Superintendent of Schools John Doherty is pleased to announce that he will be recommending Carolyn Wilson for the position of Director of Student Services at the School Committee Meeting on Monday Evening.  Even with a limited pool of qualified applicants, Ms. Wilson emerged as an extremely strong and well qualified candidate during multiple interviews with members of the Screening Committee and Central Office Administrators.

Ms. Wilson is currently a Team Facilitation Leader in the Newburyport Public Schools.  She has a Master’s of Education from Simmons College, a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Saint Anselm College, and a Doctor of Jurisprudence from Suffolk University.    Ms. Wilson will be attending the School Committee meeting on Monday evening and will be interviewed by the Committee in open session.  The public is invited to attend.

The Reading Public Schools would like to thank the ten member Director of Student Services Screening Committee for all of their hard work in this process.

A copy of Ms. Wilson’s resume is below.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Reading Public Schools administration offices at 781-944-5800.

Wilson Resume

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Early Childhood Center Informational Meetings

Dear Reading Community,

In September, 2012, the Reading School Committee voted unanimously to support the transition to publicly funded full day kindergarten once adequate and permanent space could be identified.  This decision was based on the increased need for full day kindergarten in our community, the growing research that supports full day kindergarten for all students, and the fact that over 200 communities in Massachusetts now offer publicly funded full day kindergarten.  As a result of those discussions, the Reading Public Schools has been investigating different space options to address the growing programmatic needs of our preschool and kindergarten students.  As part of this process, an Early Childhood Education Center Working Group, consisting of community leaders, educators, parents, and citizens was formed last October to identify, review, and analyze over 20 different options to address these needs and the growing space needs of our school district.  A recommendation was made to the Reading School Committee at their March 10th meeting.

On March 24, the Reading School Committee, upon recommendation of the Working Group, voted to accept the option of building an early education childhood center on the Reading Memorial High School parking lot adjacent to the William E. Endslow Fine and Performing Arts Center.  This option was the most feasible for a variety of reasons including educational benefit, cost effectiveness, community value, and site availability.

At April Town Meeting, Town Meeting members will vote on a proposal to appropriate $485,000 for a design study for this option.  Between now and April Town Meeting, the Reading Public Schools will be holding community information sessions to educate the community on this proposal.  At the sessions, we will discuss why we need additional educational space, the value of Full Day Kindergarten, the current space needs at our schools, how we address the issues currently, the different options that were studied, and the long term costs of an early childhood center.

The dates and times for the sessions are listed below.  All sessions will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the Coolidge Multipurpose Room, unless otherwise noted.

April 2 (6:30 p.m.)

April 8 (6:30 p.m.)

April 14 (6:30 p.m.)

April 22 (10:00 a.m.)

April 22 (6:30 p.m.)

Resource materials will be found on the Reading Public School District website (http://www.edline.net/pages/ReadingPublicSchools) after April 2nd.

We encourage you to attend one of these sessions and learn more about this important topic.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Reading Public Schools Administrative Offices at 781-944-5800.

 

Sincerely,

John F. Doherty, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

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Michael Fowlin Coming to Reading Next Week

The Reading Education Foundation (REF) and the Coolidge, Parker, and RMHS PTO proudly present Actor-Psychologist-Poet, Dr. Michael Fowlin on Thursday, April 3rd, from 7:00-9:00 p.m. in the William E. Endslow Performing Arts Center.  There is no cost to attend this unique event.

Fowlin

Dr. Michael Fowlin

Dr. Fowlin will be presenting his unique show, “You Don’t Know Me until You Know Me, A Dance with Diversity”. In this gripping, fast paced, 75-minute performance, “Mykee” slips in and out of characters, both male and female, who “share their stories.” These stories are shared in an often humorous, but at times heartbreaking, manner.

According to Marlene Lifshin, School Adjustment Counselor at Coolidge Middle School, “Dr. Folwin visited Reading almost four years ago and students still remember him.”  His dynamic one-person show deals with the issues of race, discrimination, violence prevention, personal identity, suicide, gender equity, homophobia, and the emotional challenges of special education youth.

According to Fowlin, “his programs combine both his professional acting talents and his psychological training. His mission is to create an atmosphere of worldwide inclusion, not just tolerance, towards all people.  He has worked extensively with all age groups in the United States and in other countries.  His work has included peer mediation, diversity trainings, gender equity workshops, and violence prevention seminars”

Special thanks to the Reading Education Foundation and the Coolidge, Parker, and High School PTOs, for sponsoring both the community presentation and Dr. Fowlin’s performances for students at Reading Memorial High School, Parker Middle School and Coolidge Middle School on April 3rd and April 4th. . Dr. Fowlin will also meet with small groups of students at each school.  Learn more about this unique performer at www.michaelfowlin.com

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RMHS Principal Finalists Announced

The Reading Public Schools is pleased to announce the four finalists for the position of Reading Memorial High School Principal.  These finalists were part of a rigorous interview process that was conducted by the 15 member RMHS Principal Screening Committee.  The four finalists are:

  1. Adam Bakr, Assistant Principal, Marlborough High School
  2. Daniel G. Bauer, Assistant Principal, Beverly High School
  3. John M. Dillon, III, Assistant Principal for Educational Services, Minuteman Regional Vocational High School
  4. Jahmal Mosley, Principal, Somerset Berkley Regional High School

A copy of each finalist’s resume is found below.  On Thursday, March 27th, the finalists will be on a site visit to Reading Memorial High School and meet with staff, students, and administrators.  On Thursday evening, March 27th, in the Patrick A. Schettini Library Media Center at Reading Memorial High School, each candidate will be interviewed by the Reading Community in an Open Microphone format.  The interview times are as follows:

6:00 p.m.             Adam Bakr

6:30 p.m.             Jahmal Mosley

7:00 p.m.             Dan Bauer

7:30 p.m.             Jack Dillon

A special thanks goes to the RMHS Principal Screening Committee for their efforts in this process.

 

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Reading Public Schools Administrative Offices at 781-944-5800.

HS Finalists_032614

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