Russell School Handbook
Home of the Russell Bears
RUSSELL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
3216 Russell Street Missoula, MT 59801
FAX (406) 721-7063
VM# 728-2400, Ext.4800
Peter J. Halloran, Principal
Dear Russell families,
It is with immense joy that I step into the role of principal at Russell Elementary School. I am humbled and honored to follow in the footsteps of Mrs. Christiansen and work alongside the faculty and staff here at Russell. It has only been a few short weeks, but already I am blown away by the dedication and passion of everyone who works at Russell.
In my conversations with Russell staff, the word I have walked away reflecting upon is “belonging.” Russell is a family, and families are held together by a sense of belonging; not because we are the same, but because we are on the same team and share the same goals. This sense of belonging is reflected in the six houses, named after traits we all strive to embody. The houses allow for kindergartners, fifth graders, and kitchen staff alike to belong to one another and share a bond. As Russell community members, I encourage you to belong to Russell in any way your life circumstances allow. It does not matter whether this means becoming involved in the PTO or asking your child what they love about being a Russell Bear.
In Russell, I see a school that cares about your child. We care about your child in every sense. We care about their academic growth and value growth over achievement. We will work tirelessly to ensure that every student grows and achieves. Additionally, we promise to look after your child’s social, emotional, and physical well-being. We understand that for a child to learn, they must first feel safe, capable, and celebrated. We pledge to keep your child safe, to get to know them on a deeply personal level, and to never give up on them. We will work collaboratively with you to not only teach them how to be good students, but how to be good citizens.
To accomplish any of our goals, however, I have one simple favor to ask. Give us a chance. Give us a chance by bringing your child to school every day on time. Good attendance is a predictor of academic success, but also allows your child to feel comfortable at school. Please take some time at the beginning of the school year to develop an evening and morning routine to ensure that your child arrives rested and eager to learn. We will take it from there!
I look forward to serving the people of Russell Elementary. Please introduce yourself (you may have to tell me your name multiple times) before or after school, and never hesitate to approach me with any questions you may have. I look forward to getting to know the families of Russell and their unique stories.
I am grateful for the opportunity to serve Russell; its families, its staff, and its children. Know that my door is open, and your voice matters.
It is a great day to be a Russell Bear!
Peter J. Halloran
Principal, Russell Elementary
Russell School Staff
Principal - Peter J. Halloran
Secretary - Becky Maier
Kindergarten- Kelsey Malchi, Rebecca Schendel, and Bonnie Schraeder
Grade One - Susan Cutler, Mary Finnegan, and Amy Stemple
Grade Two - Shannon Judge, Jennifer Molloy, and Jenny Owens
Grade Three - Tessa Masters, Doug Gillespie, and Ashley Schuman
Grade Four - Jennifer Seaman and Sandra Whatman
Grade Five - Saundra Long, Susie Mueller, and Joseph Kerney
Title One - Tuuli Keyes and Doug Rossberg
Resource - Danielle Mizner and Jess Robbins
Para Educators: Raelene Punke
Extended Resource K-2 - Rob Henthorn
Para Educators: Kim Lederer, Mary Plummage. and Becky Bowler
Extended Resource 3-5 - Chelsae Larson
Librarian - Darcy Caron
P.E. - Vicki Opstad
General Music - Kristin Zschaechner
Art - Monica Thompson
Band / Orchestra - Randy Zschaechner /Ryan Belski
Counselor - Emily Culkin
Speech-Language Pathologist - Taylor Potter
Psychologis - Laura Moss
Custodians - AM-Dan Falldorf; PM-Dan Geary
Co-Hostess - Jean Bowler
Noon Supervisors - Frankie Rodriguez, Deb Flankey
Crossing Guard - Deb Flankey
Band & Orchestra
(5th grade only) 11:15-11:45
Afternoon: K-2nd students: 1:50-2:05 or 3rd-5th students: 2:00-2:15
Missoula County Public Schools (K-8) will continue to have a professional schedule for this school year. All students at Russell School will be dismissed one hour early on Thursdays to accommodate this schedule.
The professional schedule is arranged to allow for building and district-wide professional growth activities.
SCHOOL FOOD SERVICE
The Russell School food service program provides free breakfast, hot lunch, and one snack per day for all students.
Please contact the school office before 9:00 a.m. if you will be joining your student for lunch. This ensures that a lunch will be ordered for you.
Bowls, spoons and microwave access are neither provided nor available. Spoons and bowls should be included in your child’s sack lunch.
MCPS HEALTH INFORMATION FOR PARENTS OF INCOMING STUDENTS
First aid for injuries and illness response is provided by school staff and when present, a school nurse. It may be necessary for the school to contact emergency services or to send a child home due to illness or injury. It is VERY important that the school have current emergency names and phone contacts.
Parents and guardians should complete a new health history form whenever there are significant health changes in your child such as a new lifdistrict website under the student services/health services tab at http://www.mcpsmt.org/domain/845.
The district has procedures for the management of life-threatening allergies of students. Information about these procedures may be found on the district health services website.
Life threatening reactions are called anaphylaxis (pronounced an-a-fi-LAK-sis). Anaphylaxis can occur from stinging or biting insects, medication, foods or latex. Anaphylaxis is a collection of symptoms affecting multiple systems of the body. The onset of these symptoms is most commonly immediate, although may be delayed by hours. The symptoms can include:
- Mouth: Itchy, swelling of tongue and/or lips
- Throat: Itchy, tightness/closure, hoarseness, trouble breathing/swallowing
- Skin: Itchy, hives, redness, swelling, red watery eyes
- Gut: Nausea, vomiting, cramps, diarrhea
- Lung: Short of breath, wheeze, repetitive cough
- Heart: Pale or blue skin color, dizzy/faint, weak pulse
- Neurological: Sense of "impending doom", irritability, change in alertness, mood change, confusion
On occasion, other students and parents may be asked to limit bringing in certain items due to another student’s life-threatening allergy. Your cooperation with these needed restrictions is greatly appreciated and important to keep all children safe.
Epinephrine Auto-Injectors in Schools
Each district school may maintain a stock supply of auto-injectable epinephrine to be administered immediately for actual or perceived anaphylaxis ( life threatening allergic reaction) in any student by a school nurse or other authorized personnel in accordance with Montana law (MCA § 20-5-421) and district medication policy 3416. 911 will be summoned and then parent will be notified immediately following all administration of epinephrine. The limited stock of this medication is not intended to be used in place of medications previously or currently prescribed for specific students or staff with known allergies. Students with known allergies are expected to continue to provide their own health care provider ordered medications and written individual annual anaphylaxis plan.
Most student medication can be taken at home either before or after school. Only those medications that your child must have while at school are permitted. “Medications” include prescription, over the counter and homeopathic or alternative medications such as vitamins. For the safety of all students, students are not allowed to carry any medication unless permitted by law (allergy and asthma medications) or by accommodation plan. Parents or guardians must bring all other medications to the school office or health office in a pharmacy or manufacturer labeled container. All medications must have annual written parent permission and health care provider signature on file. Unused medication is discarded at the end of the school year. Related medication information and forms may be found on the district website under Student Services / Health Services.
Communicable Diseases and Infections
A good rule of thumb is if your child feels too ill to participate in school or needs more care than is reasonable in the classroom, they need to stay home until they feel better. A complete list of symptoms or illness that students must stay home for can be found on the district website under the student services/health services tab or at http://www.mcpsmt.org/domain/845. Occasionally, it may be necessary for the school to send a child home due to illness. If there is the possibility of a communicable disease, the child may return when the condition clears or a health care provider authorizes the child’s return to school. The school may also enforce more stringent illness guidelines when advised or ordered to do so by the health department in illness outbreaks.
Immunizations: All students must have written proof from a health care provider of adequate immunization before they may attend school as per state law, unless they have a current signed medical or religious exemption or conditional form. Please see the school secretary/ school nurse for questions or details or the district website under the student services/health services tab or at http://www.mcpsmt.org/Page/2111. Necessary immunizations are available through your child’s health care provider or the Missoula County Health Department located at 301 W. Alder, phone 258-4745. They have a sliding fee scale for children’s immunizations and walk-in hours. You must have a copy of your child’s immunization record to obtain immunizations from the health department.
Hearing screening is done for kindergarten, 1st and 9th grade students and vision screening is done for Pre-school through 5th grade students. Parents are notified if there are concerns. Screenings are not meant to take the place of professional exams.
Education is a cooperative venture to which the student, the teacher and the parent/guardian contribute. Prompt, regular attendance in school is an important factor in determining a student's academic success, including success in meeting state and local requirements for graduation. Students who attend school consistently develop better socially, establish better communication with their teachers, acquire important lifetime habits such as dependability, self-sufficiency, and responsibility and have greater success academically. Missoula County Public Schools recognizes that school attendance is the responsibility of the student and parent/guardian, supported by the teachers and administration. The following procedures are designed to encourage regular and punctual school attendance so that learning can take place. It is intended to be positive and not punitive, and all measures taken will be in the students’ best interest. These practices and procedures will assist families and school personnel in making attendance decisions.
A. Student's Responsibility: It is the student's responsibility to:
attend all assigned classes and other instructional activities on time every day that school is in session;
be aware of and follow the correct procedures when absent from an assigned
class or other instructional activity;
request any missed assignments due to an absence; and
complete assigned work in a timely manner.
B. Parent or Guardian's Responsibility: It is the responsibility of the student's parent/guardian to:
ensure the student is attending school;
inform the school in the event of a student absence;
be aware of and follow the correct procedures for reporting student absence; and
work cooperatively with the school and the student to resolve any attendance
issues that may arise.
C. Teacher's Responsibility: It is the teacher's responsibility to:
take daily attendance and to maintain accurate attendance records in each
assigned class and other instructional activities;
be familiar with all procedures governing attendance and to apply these
procedures uniformly in classroom assignments and for all assigned students;
provide any student who has been absent with any missed assignments upon
4. work cooperatively with the student's parent/guardian and the student to
resolve any attendance issues that may arise; and
work cooperatively with the student’s parent/guardian when the student’s
attendance record impacts academic performance.
D. Administrator's Responsibility It is the administrator's responsibility to:
require students to attend all assigned classes and other instructional activities;
be familiar with statutes, policies and procedures governing attendance and
apply them uniformly to all students;
ensure that all teachers properly account for student attendance in a timely
maintain accurate records on student attendance and respond to the previous day's absences by
determining the status of each;
inform the student's parent/guardian of the student's attendance and work
cooperatively with the student and parent/guardian to solve attendance problems; and
work collaboratively with the teaching staff to develop and implement uniformly administered
work with students and parents/guardians to develop and implement a plan for recovery of
Students are required to attend all assigned classes and/or other instructional activities every day school is in session, unless the student has a valid excuse for absence, in accordance with Section 20-5-103, MCA.
A. Excused Absences:
These include family authorized absences and school authorized absences. The following reasons shall be sufficient to constitute excused absences:
1) Family authorized excused absences:
a) Personal illness
b) Family emergency or death in the family
c) Medical or dental treatment
d) Other activities as approved by the school
2) School authorized excused absences
a) Approved field trips
b) Interscholastic competitions and events
c) Other activities as approved by the school
B. Unexcused Absences:
These are absences which are not authorized by the parent/guardian or the school. The following absences are examples of absences which will not be excused:
- leaving school premises without authorization from the nurse, the attendance
- office or the principals’ offices
- failing to attend class (while remaining on the premises) without advanced permission
- family trips/vacations for which no prior arrangement have been made with the School
- other absences not authorized by the school or parent/guardian.
Reporting Student Absences
When a student must be absent from school, the parent/guardian is requested to notify the school’s attendance office, whenever possible, in advance of the absence. If the school attendance office does not receive advance notice, the school will make a reasonable effort to contact a parent/guardian to verify the student absence. If the school is unable to contact a student’s parent/guardian after a reasonable effort has been made, the absence will be recorded as unexcused. Single or multiple absences that are not verified by a parent/guardian, or which have been recorded as unexcused, may be handled as part of the disciplinary process.
Whenever possible, students are to request make-up work in advance of the absence and to complete work according to the timelines established by the individual teacher.
Absences necessitated by student participation in field trips or extra-curricular activities must be excused in advance. The participating student is responsible to secure each teacher’s signature on a pre-arranged absence slip and request homework assignments prior to the date of the absence.
Each school will develop an attendance intervention committee. At the beginning of each school year, the attendance intervention committee will confer regarding students who have had attendance issues in the past. This will provide an opportunity for proactive intervention by the school and the family of the student.
Students accruing six (6) or more absences in a semester will be considered at-risk for developing chronic absenteeism. A sixth absence in a semester will result in an attendance letter to the parent and a referral to the attendance intervention committee for review. Unexcused absences may result in a referral to the attendance intervention team prior to the sixth absence. The attendance intervention committee may, at any time, intervene on behalf of student considered to be at-risk as a result of attendance issues.
A student accruing ten (10) or more absences in a semester will be considered chronically absent. The school principal or designee will contact the student’s parent/guardian to confer regarding attendance interventions. High school students accruing excessive absences may have class credit placed on hold until an appropriate attendance intervention plan has been developed and implemented. Chronic absenteeism may result in a referral to Child and Family Services or to the Missoula County Attorney as a child truant from school in accordance with Section 20-5-106, MCA.
Please report absences by calling the Russell School office at 542-4080 or 728-2400, ext. 4080. A message may be left after school hours.
The parent or guardian must contact the school by note or telephone before 9:00 a.m. on the day when the child will be out of school.
When a child has not arrived at school by 9:00 a.m. and there has been no note or telephone call, the school will make every effort to contact the parent or guardian.
Please attempt to schedule your vacation to coincide with scheduled school holidays.
A sound and comprehensive reporting system is an integral part of the educational program of Missoula County Public Schools. We believe that the home, the school and the child must form a solid bond aimed at a common target – the child’s development for his/her full potential.
Report cards are given out at the end of each trimester and are designed to measure the extent to which the child is achieving the course objectives. The reporting program consists of report cards, written comments when appropriate and conferences. The first and second trimester report cards are shared with the parents at conference times. The third trimester report cards are sent home with each student.
Parent-Teacher conferences are scheduled at the end of the first and second trimesters. Parents and teachers have the opportunity and are encouraged to schedule additional conferences throughout the year.
Telephones in the school are for business purposes. In emergencies only, students may obtain permission to use the phone. We will not allow students to call when they have forgotten something at home or to make arrangements to visit with another child after school. Each child must learn to accept the consequences of his/her actions. Cellular phones, of any kind, are to be turned off, kept in book bag, and not used during the school day or on the bus ride to or from school.
The staff of Russell greatly values their instructional time. If you need to leave a message for your child’s teacher, please use his/her voice mail. Students will only be called from the classroom in case of an emergency. We are not responsible for lost or stolen devices.
RUSSELL SCHOOL LIBRARY
The school library is open for all students (K-5) to use during the regular school days and hours. Regular classes are scheduled for all levels. Open use of the library is encouraged throughout the day.
There are no fines for having an overdue library book. However, there is a replacement charge for lost and books. Please notify our librarian about damaged or lost books. The library is open for families to use. We would like all parents to feel free to utilize the resources.
COMPUTER AND INTERNET ACCESS
MCPS Board Policy 3612 provides computer systems and Internet access for staff and students as an educational tool. Students will be instructed on safe and appropriate usage and will be supervised by MCPS staff while using computer resources. In addition, all use is electronically monitored and Internet access is limited by use of age appropriate filters. The use of these resources is a privilege and access may be revoked due to inappropriate use or abuse. Non-educational use, attempts to circumvent network protocols, knowingly attempting to harm others or to destroy their work is considered inappropriate and abusive, and will be subject to District disciplinary or legal action as appropriate. A full description of usage policies and regulations can be found at the MCPS website under Board Policies. A current Acceptable Use Policy (permission form) for each student must be signed by the student and parent/guardian of minors and will be kept on file at the school.
Please help your children dress for the day as children are required to go outside during recess except in extreme weather. Ensure that they have boots, mittens, hats, snow pants, etc. We discourage the practice of sending notes to the teacher requesting permission for a child to remain inside because of inclement weather. However, we do recognize the necessity of this when a child is recuperating from an accident or illness. We will gladly honor such requests under these conditions upon the receipt of a doctor’s note.
If school is delayed or cancelled due to an emergency or severe weather:
Missoula County Public Schools will notify parents as early as possible if severe weather or other circumstances require that schools delay their starting time or schools are closed and cancelled for the day. District officials work closely with the bus company and city/county transportation staff to monitor the condition of local roads and highways during severe weather or when other circumstances arise. The District will use the Connect 5 system to communicate with parents by telephone should school be cancelled or delayed. A recorded phone message will be generated to each household as early as 6:15 a.m. It is the responsibility of parents to ensure that the school has their most current phone and email information on file.
The playground is supervised by Russell School staff during scheduled recesses and between 8:15 and 8:25 a.m. prior to school starting. District authorized noon supervisors are employed during the lunch periods. Children should arrive at school as near to 8:25 a.m. as possible. They are to line up at their respective doors when the 8:25 bell rings. If students are late, they should report to the school secretary as soon as they arrive to let her know they are here. Please note that there is no afterschool supervision.
K-3 students cannot wait after school in the office or on the playground for older siblings (grades 4-5) to be dismissed. They must be picked up or leave the premises immediately upon dismissal.
STUDENT DRESS CODE
Students are not allowed to wear clothing that creates a disruption or the following: halter tops, racer back tops, clothing with spaghetti straps, muscle shirts, pants/shorts/ shirts that reveal buttocks or the stomach/breast area, clothing with inappropriate language or gang related language/colors. Sensible shoes are also encouraged. Shoes with wheels are not permitted unless the wheels are taken out. Hats must be removed inside the building.
TOYS AND PERSONAL ITEMS
Students cannot bring personal items of any kind. Examples include but are not limited to balls, toys, games, radios, iPods, MP3 players, make-up, and chains. Skateboards and rollerblades are not allowed on the school grounds.
STUDENT SAFETY AND BEHAVIOR GUIDELINES
The Behavior Code has been developed to encourage a positive learning environment and an atmosphere free of physical and emotional harm.
In all relations with students, but particularly in disciplinary situations, teachers will model respect for the dignity of the students. Students will certainly need periodic guidance; however the manner in which that guidance is given is critical if we are to establish a positive school climate.
Staff members will enforce all school policies and rules inside and outside the classroom. Ordinarily teachers are expected to handle transgressions themselves; however the principal may become involved with serious or repeated infractions. The message to be communicated to the students is that every member of the staff has the authority and responsibility to adequately supervise students and exercise sound judgment.
The behavior code is not intended to be exclusive, but rather to serve as a framework to guide student development. Insubordination is one of the most serious offenses a student may commit. Insubordination is defined as refusing a reasonable command issued by any person charged with the responsibility of students.
Students may not possess or use controlled substances (alcohol, tobacco or drugs) while in school nor are they to attend school activities under the influence of such substances.
Classroom rules will be established by the individual teachers. Generalized classroom rules include:
1. Arrive on time and prepared for class.
2. Follow directions the first time they are given.
3. Complete assignments.
4. Contribute creatively, productively, safely and responsibly.
5. Respect your own and others’ property and life spaces.
6. Do not disrupt the teacher’s instruction or the learning of others.
Students have a right to be in school. With that right comes the responsibility to respect the rights of others. The right and responsibility go hand-in-hand.
Students are expected to enter the lunchroom in an orderly manner. They are to pick up after themselves at the lunch table and properly dispose of their leftovers and trays. Students are to keep their hands, feet and other objects to themselves. All food and drink is to be consumed in the lunchroom. Nothing may be taken to the playground. Students are to follow the directions of the lunchroom supervisors.
The primary concern governing the establishment of playground rules is to insure the safety of the students and adults.
Students are expected to follow the accepted rules of any game or activity in which they are involved. Playground equipment is to be used only in the manner in which it was intended to be used.
Students are not to leave the school grounds.
Students are not to throw rocks, snowballs or other objects which may endanger others.
Students are not to swear, use abusive language, be disrespectful or perform rude or obscene gestures or acts.
Students may not fight, wrestle or engage in rough play. Karate kicks and crack-the-whip are prohibited.
Students are not to ride bicycles on the school grounds. Bikes are to be walked to the bike rack, properly stored and locked. Students are not to play near the bike racks and are not to handle bikes other than their own. All riders are encouraged to wear bike helmets and follow the rules of the road. The school assumes no responsibility for lost, damaged or stolen bicycles.
Missoula County Public Schools policy prohibits roller skates, roller blades or skateboards on school grounds.
Students are to exercise good judgment and be conscious of safety concerns at all times.
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL BUS INFORMATION FOR PARENTS AND STUDENTS
Beach Transportation and MCPS want to welcome everyone to the new school year. If you need transportation for your child we can help. The district has established walking boundaries and busing boundaries. If you are in the busing boundary, your bus stop has already been established based on your home address. You can find your bus stop by simply logging onto the districts website www.mcpsmt.org then click on student services and bus schedules. You can also tab on I WANT TO: View Bus Schedules, Stops & Locations.
Please remember, if you have arranged for your child to be dropped off at an alternate address and this address is located outside the school attendance boundary, transportation will not be provided. This may include Day Care, Grandma’s House, YMCA, etc. For all other bus stop inquiries, please feel free to contact Beach Transportation.
Kindergarten bus riders will be required to wear a bus identification tag that is issued by the school. This tag identifies the child’s name, grade and busing information. Together, the school and parents will confirm that all of the busing information on the name tag is correct. The school will issue the tag, once this information has been verified. Please make sure that your child carries this tag every day and that the tag is visible at all times (backpack) so the driver can easily read the information. Kindergarten students will be sent back into the school if they do not have a bus tag.
MCPS and Beach Transportation’s number one priority is the safety of all students. We look forward to the opportunity to serve your children and provide a safe ride each and every day. Here are a few tips for parents that will ensure the safety of your child.
1. Make sure that your child gets on and off the bus at their assigned school bus stop.
2. Elementary schools will help get your child on the correct bus in the afternoon.
3. Make sure your child knows their name, address, bus number or bus animal identifier (sticker) and their school bus stop location. Teach them how to identify
their bus stop when they return home on the bus.
4. Parents must assume the responsibility for their child’s safety to and from the bus stop, and behavior while riding the bus. Parental supervision at the bus stop is
recommended both in the morning and afternoon. We suggest that you be at the bus stop at least 5 to 10 minutes early with your child. In the afternoon, meeting your child at the bus stop will assure that they get off at the correct location and home safely. If you have a kindergarten student, it is required that a parent or responsible person meet the bus. If supervision is not present at the drop off location, or if a child seems confused about their bus stop, the driver may elect to return your child back to the school and you will have to make arrangements for pick up.
5. Children must present the bus driver a written note signed by the parent, in order to go home with a friend.
Please make sure your child’s contact information at school is up-to-date at all times. This will be helpful in the event of an emergency.
Beach Transportation has set the standard for excellence in student transportation for over 75 years! We work tirelessly to ensure the peace of mind of those who entrusted their children to us. We look forward to working with you and your children!
Safety, respect and courtesy are expected of all students who ride the school buses to and from school and on field trips. Any time there is a behavior infraction on the bus, parents will receive a Bus Conduct Report and/or contact from the principal.
- Classroom conduct is the accepted behavior (Be Respectful, Responsible, Safe and Kind).
- This looks like: following the driver’s instructions, remaining properly seated, talking quietly, and keeping your hands and personal items to yourself.
- Obscenities and profanity will not be tolerated on the school bus.
- Bullying/harassment (teasing, shouting, pushing, intimidation or fighting) is not acceptable.
- Students who do not follow the rules may be suspended from the bus.
If seatbelts are available on your bus:
- All students are required to wear seatbelts as designed.
- Students are expected to buckle themselves in once they have taken their seat. If a student needs assistance, students may ask the bus driver for help.
- Students refusing to use seatbelts as designed will be subject to a Bus Conduct Report and/or contact from the principal.
- Repeated refusal to wear seatbelts may result in suspended riding privileges from the bus.
Major infractions or repeated disciplinary problems may result in the assignment of in-school suspension (I.S.S.) or out-of-school suspension (O.S.S.). Major infractions include, but are not limited to:
- Physical or verbal assault
- Possession/use of a controlled substance (alcohol, tobacco or drugs)
- Possession of a weapon (may result in expulsion)
- Gang activity
- Bomb threats
- Hate crimes
- Communicating threats or using intimidation
- Creating disturbances on school grounds
- Continual disruption of policy, administrator, teacher and student instruction
- Inappropriate drawings
Parents will be notified immediately of assignment of in-school or out-of-school suspension.
Student Due Process
Student discipline must comply with basic due process requirements. The nature and extent of the requirements depend upon the circumstances.
Due process is a flexible concept; therefore any discipline must be appropriate given the violation. The student must be given oral or written notice of alleged violation, a summary of the evidence obtained by the school and an opportunity to tell his/her side of the story.
More formal due process procedures are required when the potential disciplinary consequences involve expulsion. Then the student must be notified in writing of the specific violation which he/she is charged and of the school’s witnesses and evidence. If the violation is denied the student must be given a fair opportunity to present his/her won witnesses and evidence to the decision maker.
For further clarification of the formal procedures available to students, refer to Missoula County Public Schools’ suspension and expulsion policy (File 3300)
CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT
Montana Law requires school personnel to report suspected abuse or neglect to the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) (MCA 41-3-201). The law states that when child abuse or neglect is suspected, public employees are mandated to report the incident. The report required should contain:
a) names and addresses of the child and his/her parents or other persons responsible for his/her care;
b) to the extent known, the child’s age, the nature of the child’s injuries;
c) any other information that the reporter believes might be helpful in establishing the cause of the injuries or showing the willful neglect the identity of the person(s) responsible;
d) the facts which led the reporter to believe that the child has suffered injuries or willful neglect.
DISCRIMINATION/ INTIMIDATION/ HARASSMENT
Russell School is committed to providing a positive learning and working environment for students and staff free of discrimination, intimidation and harassment. Each individual has a right to learn and work in an atmosphere that promises respect and dignity and prohibits discriminatory and/or harassing practices. Moreover, members of the school community have the corresponding responsibility to report those acts that they believe have violated their rights.
Racial and sexual discrimination/intimidation/harassment are defined as unwelcome or unwanted conduct, either verbal or physical, when this conduct substantially interferes with an individual’s learning or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive learning environment.
Examples of racial and sexual discrimination/intimidation/harassment include, but are not limited to:
1. Racial or sexual slurs and/or jokes
2. Verbal abuse of a racist or sexual nature
3. Demeaning characterizations of racial or ethnic groups
4. Graphic, verbal commentary about an individual’s body or color, sexual prowess or deficiencies
5. Display in the learning environment of sexually suggestive, racist or culturally demeaning objects, written materials, publications and/or pictures.
A student who feels that he/she has been or is being subjected to discrimination, intimidation, harassment should immediately inform a teacher or administrator. A student or staff member who observes harassment of a student similarly should report the conduct to an administrator. The district may take disciplinary action against a student who has engaged in harassing conduct or who retaliates against those who have reported such incidents, which may include suspension or expulsion from school.
The following items must not come to school under any condition: Any tobacco product, matches, lighter, knife, firearm, slingshot, handcuffs, water or toy pistols, propellants of any other kind, or any item that is used in a threatening or dangerous manner.
Failure to follow this rule strictly will result in notification of parents and may result in notification of law enforcement authorities.
Missoula County Public Schools prohibits the presence, possession, or use of weapons on school property or at any school-sponsored event unless authorized in writing by the District Superintendent. District students violating this policy will be dealt with as set out below. District employees may be subject to disciplinary action. Any other person shall be excluded and/or removed from the property or activity.
Any student who is found to bring, possess, or have a weapon on school property or at school-sponsored events shall be suspended. Weapons include but are not limited to guns, knives pepper spray, explosives, clubs, or any object that may be used as a weapon. Upon investigation, the student may be recommended for expulsion for a period of not less than one year unless modified by the Board of Trustees, upon a recommendation from the District Superintendent.
Search and Seizure
Students have right of individual privacy and a right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures under the Constitution of the United States and Montana. Students’ rights are not unlimited, however. They are balanced against school officials substantial need and responsibility to maintain order and to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the school population.
School officials may conduct searches and seize property when they have a reasonable suspicion that a student has engaged or is engaging in a violation of a school rule or a criminal statute. Searches and seizures must be reasonable under the circumstances.
School officials observe the following guidelines in making searches and seizures:
1. School officials may conduct general searches of school property whenever they have a reasonable suspicion that an object or item violating a school rule or a criminal statute is on the property. They may search without the student being present.
2. School officials may seize illegal items such as firearms, weapons, drugs, and other objects that pose a threat to the health, safety, welfare, or security of the school population.
Expulsion is the most serious consequence invoked for disciplinary reasons. A recommendation for expulsion may be made as a result of serious offenses, habitual disregard for the behavior code or possession of a weapon.
FAMILIES IN TRANSITION PROGRAM (FIT)
The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act affords eligible students the rights to a free appropriate public education, immediate enrollment even without documents normally required for enrollment, continue attending their school of origin, transportation/busing, automatic enrollment in the free/reduced lunch program, automatic enrollment in Title I services (regardless if in a Title I school), all school-based services of which they qualify, participate in all programs and activities offered to students and families and challenge enrollment/school-choice decisions.
Who is Eligible for FIT Services According to the McKinney-Vento Act?
The term “homeless children and youth” refers to individuals who lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence. Under the law, a child may qualify as homeless if he or she is:
- Living in an emergency shelter, domestic violence shelter, or transitional housing. Examples in Missoula might include: Carole Graham, Mountain Home Montana, YWCA Gateway Program, YWCA Pathways Shelter, Family Promise, Missoula Youth Homes, etc.;
- Living in a motel, hotel, trailer park, or campground due lack of alternative adequate accommodations;
- Abandoned in a hospital;
- Living in a car, park, public place, bus or train station, abandoned building, or other structure not meant for housing;
- Doubled-up with relatives or friends due to a loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason;
- NOT living with a parent or legal guardian and is an unaccompanied youth living in a situation that meets one of the definitions listed above or due to extreme conflict, unsafe or unsupportive living conditions.
How does the McKinney-Vento program work at MCPS?
Missoula County Public Schools employs a Families-in-Transition (FIT) liaison to advocate for families and to assist them in coordinating academic support for their students. The FIT liaison works closely with Family Resource Center or FIT coordinators at each building in the district to assure eligible families receive needed support. The FIT liaison assists families with immediate school enrollment for eligible students (regardless if missing immunization or academic records), arranges for busing or transportation assistance, and refers students for Title I services for those in grades K-8.
For more information or assistance with determining eligibility, contact the MCPS FIT Liaison:
MCPS FIT Liaison
215 South Sixth Street West
Missoula, MT 59801
406-728-2400 ext. 1080
Family Resource Center or Families in Transition Coordinator
A Family Resource Center or Families in Transition Coordinator is available in each MCPS building. FRC/FIT coordinators are available specifically to serve families seeking help with life’s transitions, challenges and changes. The coordinators assist with accessing resources and services, to include:
- McKinney-Vento services for families and youths experiencing homelessness (as defined by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act)
- Additional academic supports
- Housing and employment – options and information
- Clothing, food and toiletries – supplies and resources
- Information, referrals and paperwork assistance
- Connections to community supports and programs
- Crisis/personal support
To learn more about the services available to families and youths experiencing transitions due to economic hardship, talk to your building FRC/FIT coordinator, secretary, teacher or principal.
Contact Information for FRC/FIT Coordinator:
Kelly Racela, Family Resource Specialist
728-2400, EXT. 4846
SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICES
All children in Missoula County Public Schools with disabilities are entitled to a free, appropriate, public education provided in the least restrictive environment. This district's special education services department provides a variety of services including special academic programs and speech, occupational and physical therapy. Most children receive service at their neighborhood school integrated with their peers. Parents with concerns about their child’s achievements can contact their classroom teacher or school principal.
MCPS is responsible for finding and evaluating children ages 3-21 for disabilities that impact a child’s ability to learn. If you have concerns about your school-age child, talk to your school principal.
The IDEA Parent-Teacher-Students association is a Missoula area coalition of families, teachers, administrators and advocates united in an effort to promote quality education and services for students with special needs.
NATIVE AMERICAN EDUCATION
This service for Native American students in MCPS is federally funded and assists students in their social and academic progress. Call 728-2400, ext. 5045 for more information.
Children from other countries and/or whose second language is English are given help in learning English and American customs and are tutored in academic subjects.
Call 728-2400, ext. 5050 for more information.
GIFTED EDUCATION PROGRAM
The Gifted Education program emphasizes the shared responsibilities of parents, educators and community to meet the needs of students with potential and demonstrated high ability. The model recognizes the strength of the regular classroom as the basis of services and includes curriculum options in the classroom and/or pullout programs to serve the special needs of students. A program is designed for each individual student based on his or her needs.
MCPS ANNUAL NOTICES TO PARENTS/GUARDIANS
Notice of Non-discrimination
Missoula County Public Schools does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age in its programs and activities. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Steve McHugh, MCPS Director of Human Resources and Labor Relations, 215 South Sixth West, Missoula, Montana 59801; phone 406-728-2400. For further information on notice of non-discrimination, contact the Seattle Office for Civil Rights (which serves the State of Montana) at the US Department of Education, 915 Second Avenue, Room 3310, Seattle, Washington, 98174-1099; call 206-607-1600 or 1-(800)-421-3481.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a Federal law, requires that Missoula County Public Schools District No. 1, with certain exceptions, obtain your written consent prior to the disclosure of personally identifiable information from your child's education records.
However, Missoula County Public Schools may disclose appropriately designated "directory information" without written consent, unless you have advised the District to the contrary in accordance with District procedures. The primary purpose of directory information is to allow Missoula County Public Schools to include this type of information from your child's education records in certain school publications. Examples include:
- A playbill, showing your student's role in a drama production
- The annual yearbook
- Honor roll or other recognition lists
- Graduation programs
- Sports activity sheets, such as for wrestling, showing weight and height of team members
Directory information, which is information that is generally not considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if released, can also be disclosed to outside organizations without a parent's prior written consent. Outside organizations include, but are not limited to, companies that manufacture class rings or publish yearbooks. In addition, two federal laws require local educational agencies (LEAs) receiving assistance under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) to provide military recruiters, upon request, with three directory information categories—names, addresses and telephone listings—unless parents have advised the LEA that they do not want their student's information disclosed without their prior written consent. (1)
If you do not want Missoula County Public Schools to disclose directory information from your child's education records without your prior written consent, you must notify the District in writing by end of September (opt out form provided by school). Missoula County Public Schools has designated the following information as directory information:
- Student’s Name
- Telephone listing
- Electronic mail address (if available)
- Date of birth
- Dates of attendance
- Grade level
- Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
- Weight and height of members of athletic teams
- Awards and Honors Received
1.These laws are: Section 9528 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (20 U.S.C. § 7908), as amended, and 10 U.S.C. § 503(c), as amended.
NOTIFICATION OF RIGHTS UNDER FAMILY EDUCATION RIGHTS AND PRIVACY ACT
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords parents and students over 18 years of age ("eligible students") certain rights with respect to the student's education records. These rights are:
(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. Parents or eligible students should submit to the School principal a written request that identifies the record(s) they wish to inspect. The School official will make arrangements for access and notify the parent or eligible student of the time and place where the records may be inspected.
(2) The right to request the amendment of the student’s education records that the parent or eligible student believes are inaccurate. Parents or eligible students may ask the School to amend a record that they believe is inaccurate. They should write the School principal, clearly identify the part of the record they want changed, and specify why it is inaccurate. If the School decides not to amend the record as requested by the parent or eligible student, the School will notify the parent or eligible student of the decision and advise them of their right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment. Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to the parent or eligible student when notified of the right to a hearing.
(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, which permits 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 his or her tasks.
A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility.
Upon request, the School discloses education records without consent to officials of another school district in which a student seeks or intends to enroll. [NOTE: FERPA requires a school district to make a reasonable attempt to notify the parent or student of the records request unless it states in its annual notification that it intends to forward records on request.]
(4) The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the School District to comply with the requirements of FERPA. The name and address of the Office that administers FERPA are:
Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-5901
PROTECTION OF PUPIL RIGHTS (PPRA) NOTICE
PPRA affords parents certain rights regarding our conduct of surveys, collection and use of information for marketing purposes, and certain physical exams. These include the right to:
Consent before students are required to submit to a survey that concerns one or more of the following protected areas ("protected information survey") if the survey is funded in whole or in part by a program of the U.S. Department of Education (ED)-
- Political affiliations or beliefs of the student or student's parent
- Mental or psychological problems of the student or student's family
- Sex behavior or attitudes; Illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, or demeaning behavior
- Critical appraisals of others with whom respondents have close family relationships
- Legally recognized privileged relationships, such as with lawyers, doctors, or ministers
- Religious practices, affiliations, or beliefs of the student or parents
- Income, other than as required by law to determine program eligibility
Receive notice and an opportunity to opt a student out of –
1. Any other protected information survey, regardless of funding;
2. Any non-emergency, invasive physical exam or screening required as a condition of attendance, administered by the school or its agent, and not necessary to protect the immediate health and safety of a student, except for hearing, vision, or scoliosis screenings, or any physical exam or screening permitted or required under State law; and
3. Activities involving collection, disclosure, or use of personal information obtained from students for marketing or to sell or otherwise distribute the information to others.
Inspect, upon request and before administration or use –
- Protected information surveys of students
- Instruments used to collect personal information from students for any of the above marketing, sales, or other distribution purposes
- Instructional material used as part of the educational curriculum
These rights transfer to from the parents to a student who is 18 years old or an emancipated minor under State law.
Missoula County Public Schools District No. 1 has adopted policies, in consultation with parents, regarding these rights, as well as arrangements to protect student privacy in the administration of protected information surveys and the collection, disclosure, or use of personal information for marketing, sales, or other distribution purposes. Misoula County Public Schools will directly notify parents of these policies at least annually at the start of each school year and after any substantive changes. Missoula County Public Schools will also directly notify, such as through U.S. Mail or email, parents of students who are scheduled to participate in the specific activities or surveys noted below and will provide an opportunity for the parent to opt his or her child out of participation of the specific activity or survey. Missoula County Public Schools will make this notification to parents at the beginning of the school year if the District has identified the specific or approximate dates of the activities or surveys at that time. For surveys and activities scheduled after the school year starts, parents will be provided reasonable notification of the planned activities and surveys listed below and be provided an opportunity to opt their child out of such activities and surveys. Parents will also be provided an opportunity to review any pertinent surveys. The following is a list of the specific activities and surveys covered under this requirement:
- Collection, disclosure, or use of personal information for marketing, sales or other distribution.
- Administration of any protected information survey not funded in whole or in part by ED.
- Any non-emergency, invasive physical examination or screening as described above.
Parents who believe their rights have been violated may file a complaint with:
Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20202-5901
ASBESTOS MANAGEMENT PLAN NOTICE
In the past, asbestos was used extensively in building materials because of its insulating, sound absorbing, and fire retarding capabilities. Virtually any building constructed before the late 1970s contained some asbestos. Intact and undisturbed asbestos materials generally do not pose a health risk. Asbestos materials, however, can become hazardous when, due to damage or deterioration over time, they release fibers. If the fibers are inhaled, they can lead to health problems, since as cancer and asbestosis.
In 1986, Congress passed the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) which requires schools to be inspected to identify any asbestos containing building materials. Suspected asbestos-containing building materials were located, sampled (or assumed) and rated according to condition and potential hazard. Every three years, Missoula County Public Schools has conducted a reinspection to determine whether the condition of the known or assumed asbestos containing building materials (ACBM) has changed and to make recommendations on managing or removing the ACBM. At the last reinspection conducted on August 1, 2008, all materials listed in the Management Plan as asbestos containing (or assumed to be asbestos-containing) were inspected and found to be in good condition.
The law further requires an asbestos management plan to be in place by July 1989. Missoula County Public Schools has developed a plan, as required, which has been continually updated. The plan has several ongoing requirements: publish a notification on management plan availability and the status of asbestos activities; educate and train its employees about asbestos and how to deal with it; notify short-term or temporary workers on the locations of the asbestos containing building materials; post warning labels in routine maintenance areas where asbestos was previously identified or assumed; follow set plans and procedures designed to minimize the disturbance of asbestos containing building materials; and survey the condition of these materials every six months to assure that they remain in good condition.
The following buildings contain no asbestos-containing building materials; therefore, no operations and maintenance programs or future inspections are required: Paxson Elementary and Chief Charlo Elementary. During the past year, asbestos containing building materials have been removed, encapsulated, or enclosed in the following buildings: Sentinel High School, Seeley Lake High School, Hellgate High School, Meadow Hill Middle School, Franklin Elemetary, Cold Springs Elementary, Rattlesnake Elementary, Jefferson Center and Dickinson Lifelong Learning Center.
It is the intention of Missoula County Public Schools to comply with all federal and state regulations controlling asbestos and to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure students and employees a healthy and safe environment in which to learn and work. You are welcome to review a copy of the asbestos management plan in school district administrative office or administrative office of the school during regular business hours. Burley McWilliams, MCPS Facilities Manager, is our designed asbestos program coordinator, and all inquiries regarding the asbestos plan and asbestos-related issues should be directed to him at 728-2400, ext. 1050.