Durham County

School board to discuss superintendent search, technology policy revisions

School board Chairman Mike Lee
School board Chairman Mike Lee

An update on the search for a new superintendent and revisions to the school district’s technology policy will be the focal points of the Durham Board of Education’s regular business meeting Wednesday, May 24.

The school board is holding its meeting on Wednesday starting at 6:30 p.m., instead of the usual Thursday so board members can attend the graduations of the district’s four specialty high schools, which will begin Thursday at 9 a.m., and not end until after 6 p.m.

Durham Public Schools Board of Education Chairman Mike Lee said the agenda item about the superintendent search would include an overview of the discussion the board had earlier this month with the North Carolina School Board’s Association (NCSBA.

The Durham school board hired the NCSBA, a nonprofit that supports school boards by providing legal assistance, risk management services, advocacy efforts and other such services, to help conduct the search for a new superintendent to replace Bert L’Homme who will retire Aug. 4.

Additionally, Lee said he would seek to compress the tentative timeline presented by the NCSBA that shows the earliest start date for a new superintendent as Nov. 1.

Lee said that if the board can shave a couple of weeks off of the timeline, it could possibly avoid having to appoint an interim superintendent because L’Homme has agreed to remain on the job until the end of September if he is needed.

“Once we’ve nailed down the schedule, I think we can decide if we need an interim superintendent,” Lee said. “If we can rein it in a little, that would be helpful.”

The discussion will also include talk about a series of community events to give residents a chance to weigh in on the search for a new superintendent, Lee said.

Technology Policies

The revisions to DPS’ technology policies, recommended by the (NCSBA), mostly revolve around changes in language to comply with federal and state law and to reflect advances in technology.

“Some changes identify the roles as they are defined in DPS, use industry standard vocabulary, use clearly understood language instead of acronyms, set innovative procedures and guidelines that do not weigh down the schools in unnecessary administrative paperwork and align with federal requirements and new state laws,” DPS staffers wrote in a report to the board.

The policies — 3220 Technology in the Educational Program, 3225 Technology Responsible Use, 3226 Internet Safety and 3230 Copyright Compliance — have not been updated since 2012.

DPS technology staffers have recommended against converting to an “opt-in” policy for DPS students to use the internet at school.

Under an “opt-in” policy, DPS parents would have to give parental consent before their children could use the internet.

“This change would create a lot of unnecessary administrative paperwork that the schools would have to maintain,” staffers wrote.

Currently a parent who does not want their child to use the internet must “opt-out.”

Historically, DPS officials said there have only been about three parents who have opted out of prohibiting their child or children from using the internet at school.

Greg Childress: 919-419-6645, @gchild6645