WCSD releases statement about legal status of Digital Days

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - UPDATE: STATEMENT FROM WCSD:
The Washoe County School District (WCSD) works in close collaboration with the Nevada Department of Education (NDE) to do what is best for all students.

This commitment to support and provide resources for our 64,000 students extends to instances where it is too unsafe for them to travel to and from school.

As part of our collaboration, WCSD sought guidance from NDE and worked together to create the WCSD’s Distance Education Plan. The WCSD Distance Education Plan includes a provision for Temporary Education Plans (TEPs). TEPs were renamed “Digital School Days” in the fall of 2018 for ease of public understanding.

District-wide Digital School Days enable the District to provide all students with online classes and/or take-home work for students to learn from home during inclement and dangerous weather conditions and in place of attending a traditional brick and mortar school.

The use of Temporary Educational Placement (TEP) Days in the WCSD Distance Education Plan was discussed explicitly with the NDE when WCSD was drafting the renewed Distance Education Plan, which the District must update every three years. The name was changed to Digital School Days for ease of public understanding during the rollout district-wide in the fall of 2018.

Written in the approved Distance Education Plan: “When a student cannot attend school and/or it is not safe to convene school in the traditional sense, school will be convened using independent study methods such as packets or online lessons. When a school is closed, principals will enact their TEP plans.”

Having reviewed WCSD’s proposed Distance Education Plan, including the provision with the District-wide Digital School Day plan, NDE confirmed in a letter dated June 13, 2017 that WCSD’s plan was acceptable and approved it for implementation through June 2020.

The letter from the NDE dated January 4, 2019, was in regards to an amendment to WCSD’s Alternative Education Plan, after the NDE met with WCSD officials and requested that WCSD’s alternative education plan be modified to include TEP Plans. WCSD made the requested amendment to incorporate TEP Plans (Digital School Days) to the alternative education plan, which was then denied by the NDE in the January 4, 2019 letter. However, WCSD continues to operate Digital School Days under the approved Distance Education Plan which remains in force until June 2020.

WCSD piloted the distance education plan at schools in Incline Village for the 2017-18 school year with success.

In good faith, WCSD moved forward with implementing the District-wide Digital School Day plan—or TEP plan— within the approved distance education plan for the 2018-19 school year, which we believe provides flexible options for our students and families.

WCSD continues to work with the NDE and the Nevada Attorney General’s Office to refine this practice going forward, while continuing our ongoing partnership in protecting and providing a quality education for students in Washoe County.

ORIGINAL STORY: The Nevada Attorney General's office plans to work with the Washoe County School District to find a way to bring the district's Digital Learning Days under state law.

A meeting is scheduled for Friday, February 8 with the Attorney General's office.

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A January 4, 2019 memo from the outgoing Nevada Superintendent of Instruction informed WCSD Superintendent Traci Davis that the district could not use its Digital Days plan to meet daily attendance requirements under state law.

Nevada Revised Statute 387.1211 reads, "'Average daily attendance' means the total number of pupils attending a particular school each day during a period of reporting divided by the number of days school is in session during that period."

To allow the district to use Digital Learning Days to fulfill state attendance requirements, the Legislature and the Governor would have to change state law.

The district can still require families to complete lesson assignments for school cancellation days, but it cannot count those days as being in session.

Digital Days were designed to allow students to fulfill study and attendance requirements even when weather prohibited attendance.



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