The School Board of Escambia County, Florida, convened in a Special Workshop at 3:00 p.m., in Room 130, at the J.E. Hall Educational Services Center, 30 East Texar Drive, Pensacola, Florida, with the following present:


Chairman:  Dr. John DeWitt                 

Vice Chairman:  Ms. Linda Finkelstein     


Board Members:  Mr. Gary L. Bergosh

Mrs. Cary Stidham

Dr. Elmer Jenkins 


School Board Attorney:  Mr. Francisco M. Negron, Jr.


Superintendent of Schools:  Mr. Jim Paul





Dr. DeWitt called the Special Workshop to order at 3:00 p.m.  He explained that the purpose of the Special Workshop was to give principals the opportunity to discuss the proposed ‘safe harbor’ policy provision (discussed under ‘Student Discipline’) as suggested by Mr. Bergosh.


Due to time constraints, the following item was moved forward on the agenda:




(NOTE: This issue was previously discussed at the October 21, 2002 Regular Workshop.  Mr. Bergosh had suggested that the Board consider adding a ‘safe harbor’ provision in the Students Rights and Responsibilities Handbook.)  Dr. Alan Scott, Director of Secondary Education, briefly reviewed Florida Statute 1006.13, which refers to ‘zero tolerance.’  He noted that when “talking about ‘safe harbor’, what is referred to, is possession of a controlled substance.”  He did not believe that ‘safe harbor’ would “fall under those things that are mandated by the State that must fall under zero tolerance, which would be weapons/firearms or making a threat or false report.”  He stated that a viable defense would be “whether the student in possession of a controlled substance, actually knew whether it was an elicit substance or not.”  He explained that most of the schools in the District have an “unwritten” policy similar to the suggested ‘safe harbor’ provision, whereas if a student  “accidentally brought something to school, yet immediately turned it in to a teacher, dean or administrator, then that is understandable.”  Mr. Bergosh noted that his suggestion for the ‘safe harbor’ provision, were in response to a recent incident involving a student, who was recommend for expulsion after finding a bag of pills on campus.  The student claimed that she was afraid to turn the bag of pills in to the school administration because of the District’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy and intended to dispose of the bag but was caught before she could.  The District recommended expulsion but the students’ parents appealed for a formal hearing.  The student was later reinstated by an independent hearing officer, who recommended at most, a 10-day suspension.  Mr. Bergosh advised that the hearing officer had actually noted in his recommendation that the District did not have a ‘safe harbor provision’.  Mr. Bill Slayton, principal of Woodham High School, was concerned that “we seem to be dealing with this situation because of a singular case.”  He noted that “this is just one situation,” and “unfortunately there have been many situations where we have expelled students and stayed with the guidelines and have followed the rules and regulations.”  Mr. Bergosh believed that the ‘safe harbor’ provision would simply “put into writing what principals are already practicing.”  He noted that while the ‘safe harbor’ provision may never be utilized by a student “except in rare occasion,” it would “be there so they can’t say they did not know.”


Ms. Nettie Eaton, principal of Washington High School, questioned “how does a principal know if the student truly forgot or found something?”  Dr. Scott noted that while “in theory it (the ‘safe harbor’ provision) sounds good,” appropriate language would need to be developed to eliminate “loopholes.”

Ms. Eaton was concerned that such a provision may increase problems because students would know that they could claim ‘safe harbor’.  Mr. Bergosh disagreed, noting that the language would clearly indicate that in order to claim ‘safe harbor’, a student must immediately self-identify.  Mrs. Stidham agreed with Mr. Bergosh that the ‘safe harbor’ provision may never be utilized by a student, but noted that “it’s a defense that the student can never use (referring to student claiming that they did not know that the provision existed.)  Upon inquiry by Dr. Deborah Malishan, Director of Elementary Education, Mr. Bergosh stated that while he had envisioned the provision to apply to secondary schools, elementary schools might also have to be considered.  Mr. Bergosh requested that principals submit their concerns and/or recommendations to him, so that he could refer to them during the “drafting” of the ‘safe harbor’ policy.  He noted that the policy would be submitted for advertisement in December, while in the meantime he would continue to work with Mr. Negron on the language.




(NOTE: This issue was previously addressed at the October 21, 2002 Regular Workshop.)  Mr. John Dombroskie, Director of Purchasing and Business Affairs, and Mr. Don Manderson, Director of Instructional Technology, provided handouts and gave a brief update on the status of the eAgenda initiative.  Mr. Dombroskie stated that a “committee” [members from Purchasing, Operations, Instructional Technology and Management Information Systems (MIS)] had reviewed the eAgenda initiative, discussed the results of the RFP issued in this regard, and suggested an action plan for the District to begin limited implementation.  The following was the suggested limited implementation course of action: 1) use existing GroupWise system to begin the electronic transfer of agenda items; 2) purchase Adobe Acrobat software for the creation of PDF files by selected staff and support personnel; 3) train selected staff on the software process for submission of agenda items; 4) schedule demonstration(s) of RFP respondent’s proposals; 5) make the agenda available on the District website for public review; and 6) after presentations and trial implementation, review the process, software and hardware for further implementation and/or direction for the eAgenda initiative.  It was noted that this limited implementation proposal would give appropriate stakeholders a low-cost opportunity to explore the efficiency of this initiative to be able to make a more informed decision related to expansion of this communication solution.  Mr. Manderson noted that some Adobe Acrobat software training of selected staff (clerical staff from Assistant Superintendent’s offices) had already occurred.  Dr. DeWitt requested that Board Members be notified of the next training session so that they could attend.  After discussion, the Board collectively agreed to “keep moving” on this initiative. 




Mr. Ronnie Arnold, Director of Information Services, provided handouts and gave a brief update on the OPPAGA (Office of Public Policy and Government Accountability) study, which he noted was basically a “best management practices” audit of the entire District, which would occur during the 2003-2004 school year.  He noted that District Assistant Superintendents were already “underway” with their departments’ OPPAGA assessments.  He advised that he had met with Mr. Negron, to discuss issues that “co-relate” between the Board and the Superintendent.  Upon request by Mr. Arnold, the Board collectively agreed to allow Mr. Negron to continue to meet with Mr. Arnold, regarding those issues that “co-relate” between the Board and Superintendent.  Mr. Arnold also advised that he had contacted OPPAGA and would arrange for an OPPAGA representative to brief the Board during the month of December.  Mrs. Stidham requested that the Board receive updates regarding the OPPAGA study, periodically (possibly quarterly) throughout the process.




This issue was discussed earlier in the meeting.




There being no further business, the Special Workshop adjourned at 4:30 p.m.


Attest:                                               Approved:



Superintendent                                                            Chairman