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Wadsworth Schools revamps student death policy

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WADSWORTH — Should a Wadsworth Schools student unexpectedly die, the district will be able to offer families specific ways to honor their loved one, according to new memorial guidelines under consideration by board members.

Last month, board members first discussed the idea for the district to come up with a set of guidelines in the event of a student death. The idea is to offer meaningful, but uniform ways to acknowledge a young life.

“Unfortunately, we have had these situations before and unfortunately, we will probably have these situations again, and what we don’t have as a district right now is any standard way that we choose to be able to recognize a student and that leads to really inconsistent practices that occur over time,” Superintendent Andrew Hill said during the December meeting.

The draft policy, which is available on the district’s website and was further discussed Tuesday by board members, outlines four different memorial options that would be presented to parents or guardians in the event that a death takes place.

Options include an “In Memoriam” section in the school yearbook, the option to purchase an ad in what would have been the student’s senior yearbook (as all other parents and guardians are able to do), a moment of silence at commencement and the reading aloud of the deceased student’s name and the establishment of a memorial scholarship in the student’s name.

Hill said previously that any type of district memorial would be in accordance with the wishes of parents or guardians, and nothing would be forced upon anyone.

The draft document was published online with the board of education meeting packet and was also shared with district administrators, school guidance counselors and psychologists and interested community members for feedback, Hill said.

“I haven’t received an extensive amount of feedback, but I have received some,” he said.

Hill said there was some concern about whether the guidelines expressly limited parents or guardians to the items listed.

“Are we looking for something that is really black and white that these are the options, or are we open to the possibility that there may be something else in the situation that should be considered?” Hill said.

Newly elected Board President Linda Kramer said she believes having a guideline to help the district in the wake of a tragedy will be a good thing.

“I think there are some good thoughts from beginning to end of everything that was presented,” Kramer said. “I think once we get what we are going to do and we follow through with that it will be a good thing.”

Board member Jody McDougal said her concern with leaving the guideline open for additions is that someone could end up receiving more recognition than another, which could result in hurt feelings.

Board members unanimously voted Tuesday to modify the draft guidelines to allow for yearly reviews, rather than an occasional review as stated in the draft document. They also left open the opportunity for additional memorials.

Hill said if the board is comfortable with the draft guidelines, the issue could be voted on during the February board meeting.

Contact reporter Nathan Havenner at nhavenner@medina-gazette.com.


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