On March 22, 2005, the South Dakota Board of Education approved new administrative rules for District Accreditation and Improvement. The new Administrative Rules 24:43 outline the process for required school improvement plans for all public and private school districts that wish to maintain or seek state accreditation.
8. Bullying policy, as per:
1. Birth certificates are on file for all K-12 students. Authorized by SDCL 13-27-3.1.
Codified Law states that these must be copies of official birth certificates as issued by the Department of Health. Hospital issued certificates are not official records. A copy of a birth certificate can be obtained by contacting the Vital Records office at the Department of Health.
2. Immunization records shall be updated and on file for all students. Authorized by SDCL 13-28-7.1.
Immunization records do not have to be a part of the student’s cumulative file if they are normally kept in another file in the school. For example, some districts keep their student’s immunization records in the nurse’s office. For an onsite visit, though, the Department representative will need to have access to all records in an efficient manner. If the district keeps their immunization records in another building outside of the school districts, arrangements will need to be made with the Department in how to view those records.
3. A school calendar shall be submitted for all applicable attendance centers, and the on-line calendar updated on a regular basis to reflect actual instructional time. Authorized by SDCL 13-26-1.
Each district is asked to note all of their vacation, holiday, and conference dates on their calendar, as well as school term beginning and end. SDCL 13-26-1 states that the school term for students in attendance for Kindergarten may not be less than 437.5 hours and for grades 4-12 may not be less than 962.5 hours and ARSD 24:43:09:05 states that the school term for students in attendance in grades 1-3 may not be less than 875 hours. As per SDCL 13-26-1, the school board shall set the number of days, and the length of the school day.
For the review, evidence of total instructional minutes should be shown with a copy of the district calendar(s) from Infinite Campus.
4. Course guidelines for the South Dakota academic content standards in language arts, mathematics, science and social studies should be adopted and implemented. Authorized by SDCL 13-3-48.
The Department will be looking for evidence school administration has required curriculum be aligned to the South Dakota Content/ Common Core Standards in language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. Examples include but are not limited to samples of: curriculum maps, lesson plans, or district-adopted curriculum and/or course guides that show evidence of standards alignment.
5. Parents and guardians must be notified of their right to withhold certain information that could potentially be shared through the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Authorized by 20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99.
The Department will want to see that the District made this information public. Suggested methods to share FERPA notification with stakeholders are: local newspaper, parent letter, student handbook, or posted on office bulletin board. An excellent resource for what should be included in FERPA notification can be found at the US Department of Education Family Policy Compliance Office.
6. Criminal background investigation of current employees and student teachers should be conducted. Authorized by SDCL 13-10-12 and clarified by SDCL 13-10-14.
Criminal background checks should be on file for each person over eighteen years of age that is hired by the school district. This can be completed by the submission of fingerprint checks to the Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). More information about how to do this in South Dakota can be obtained by contacting the DCI office.
7. A written plan, for the safety of pupils in the event of a fire, tornado, or disaster, should be on file along with documentation indicating the dates and times of (2) fire drills per semester, and any additional disaster drills conducted, authorized by ARSD 24:43:09:01. In regards to the requirement of evacuation drills, please refer to SDCL 13-25-10.
Good examples of safety plans are:
- Emergency Drills Documentation Forms:
A copy of the district and/or each building school improvement plan for review.
- Communication between schools and the reviewer prior to the review really speeds the process up. An agenda should be drafted showing locations and arrival times for the course of the day. Consider where K-12 records are kept and who will be the reviewer’s contact person once s/he reaches each attendance center.
- Have a current roster of staff, including hire dates, and a student list, sorted by grade, available for the reviewer.
- Have a work area so that the reviewer has access to plug in a computer. This needs only be in one place in the district, in the event that the reviewer has to travel among several attendance centers. For example, this may be in the district office or the Superintendent’s office, as long as this location is one where the reviewer can move freely in and out of to record findings.
- For larger districts, having someone there to help the reviewer pull files will facilitate the process as she spot checks student and staff/faculty files.
- Have a checklist of the regulatory items s/he will be addressing
- Safety plan
- School calendar is updated and online (Infinite Campus)
- Course alignment to Standards
- FERPA notification
- Staff files
- Criminal background checks of teachers/student teachers or anyone 18 years or older working in the district (if hired after July 1, 2000)
- Student files
- To expedite the process, especially for larger school districts, please organize cumulative files so that the information being reviewed is readily available in each folder and placed in a consistent manner. This includes birth certificates and immunization records (or documentation verifying its absence)