The Ketchikan Gateway Borough School Board Wednesday delayed voting on a policy revision that would strengthen the district’s response to ethics violations, but only to make sure that the language change follows legal guidelines.
The Code of Ethics policy currently states that the board “encourages” employees to accept codes of ethics published by their professional associations. It also states that the district “may” report any ethics violations to the Professional Teaching Practices Commission.
The proposed revision would change “encourages” to “expects.” It also changes “may” report to “must” report.
School Board Member Tom Heutte praised the revision.
“What a difference one word makes,” he said. “Wishy washy language replaced with concrete language. When it comes to the safety of our children, it’s very important. I don’t know why they would have picked words like that in the past.”
However, Board President Matt Eisenhower questioned whether “must” is legally binding. He said “shall” is the word he’s always seen in policies.
“Usually in our policies, we recognize that “may” is something that you might use on occasion, whereas “shall” is something you will always do,” he said.
Eisenhower proposed delaying the vote on the policy revision until the borough’s attorney could review it and provide an opinion. His motion to postpone passed unanimously.
The policy revision will come back to the School Board’s next meeting, which is set for June 26th.
Also Wednesday, the board agreed to hold a single meeting in the months of July, November and December. There often is not much business to take care of those months because of holidays.