Early ISD staff will now be required to include a parent in all electronic communications between themselves and students, according to the updated ISD Employee Handbook that was approved during a regular board of trustees meeting on Tuesday evening.   

The change, which applies to coaches and teachers and will include social media platforms, was one of several minor changes to district policy literature approved by the board during the meeting.   

Early chief academic officer Reca Godfrey presented the changes to the board. “If any teacher corresponds with a student through text messaging or anything, they have to also have a parent tagged in that same conversation,” Godfrey said. “That to me is what I saw as one of the biggest changes [in the handbook].”   

Godfrey responded to questions from the board and confirmed that even communications regarding assignments and school work must involve a parent. “We’ll stress that to our teachers and coaches,” she said.   

The changes come just months after former Brownwood High soccer coach Blake Danaher was arrested for alleged improper relationships with several BHS students.   

Early High School principal Robert Weyman also discussed updates to the school student handbook that will tighten enforcement of dress code policy. “There were some rules that weren’t being enforced very well,” Weyman said. “We’re now going to enforce those. The holes in jeans, they will have tights under them. In the past they’ve had a rule of three inches above the knee on dresses. We’re also going back and, when they’re wearing tights, we’re asking for the shirts or T-shirts … to be the three inch above the knee length.”   

Weyman said the school will also ban cell phone use in the hallways, though students are still allowed to use them in the classroom for academic purposes. “We’re taking things back to academics,” he said.   

During the meeting, the board also voted to:   

•    Approve the district’s responsible use policy.   

•    Approve a resolution in response to hazardous bus stops in compliance with policy CNA. Because much of Early is situated on a highway, several bus stops are designated as hazardous and the policy must be renewed each year.   

•    Approve a board calendar for the 2017-18 school year. The board’s next meeting will occur on Aug. 21.   

•    Approve the renewal agreement with the Texas Association of School Boards risk management fund for property, liability and automobile insurance coverage for the term of Sept. 1, 2017 through Aug. 31, 2018.   

•    Approve the district’s five-year technology plan. Weyman has conducted a review of the district’s technological capabilities and recommended a plan of action moving forward, including better wi-fi, fewer wasteful software buys and uniform technology training. Weyman said he will have a more detailed plan next summer.    

•    Approve the quarterly investment report.   

At the beginning of the meeting, the council heard reports from Godfrey, chief financial officer Becky Seale and athletic director Blake Sanford. Sanford said volleyball two-a-day practices will begin Aug. 1 and football two-a-days one week later on Aug. 7.   

Sanford appears every Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. on 102.3 KXYL.   

The council convened in a closed session to end the meeting. Early ISD superintendent Wes Beck is recovering from surgery and did not attend.