Were school 'Digital Days' approved? State, district disagree

Published: Feb. 7, 2019 at 6:05 PM PST
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In concept it seemed like a good idea.

No one argues that when the weather gets bad enough to make travel hazardous, school days should be canceled. But conditions throughout the district can vary. Why cancel classes district-wide when the impact in some areas is less?

The Washoe School District plan -- called the Distance Education Plan -- divided the district into different zones and provided for Temporary Education Plans -- or Digital Days -- to allow students kept a home by the weather in their zones to keep up with online classes or homework.

The geography of the different zones caused confusion earlier this week and the district scrapped the idea, returning to the earlier plan, still with digital days, but on a district-wide, one-size-fits-all approach.

But it turns out there were questions raised about it weeks before its first trial and now the state and the district can't agree on how we got here.

A memo from the state school superintendent dated January 4, 2019 warns the district the plan did not meet state law and it alleges the state only learned about the plan last September, and following a meeting in November, the district agreed to resubmit the idea meeting the law.

Late February 7, the school district disputed that timeline, saying the plan was approved in June of 2018, and provides when a "student can't attend school or when it's not safe, school can be convened using independent study methods. When a school is closed principals will enact their temporary education plans."

Sources tell us the district was advised in 2017 such plans could be provided on a 'case by case' basis, meaning student by student, not entire zones or schools.

Why is this so important? It's directly linked to state funding, which is calculated based on average daily attendance data. Students are required to have a set number of hours of instruction in a school year.

Though they are in disagreement with how all this happened, the state and the district are talking. A meeting with the attorney general's office is scheduled for February 8. A solution may require legislative action.

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