Members of a "common sense" organization say that even though they've won a moral victory in their struggle against Nebo School District's citizenship policy, they'll continue their fight to get the policy changed.
The citizenship policy penalizes students for excessive absences and tardies, as well as behaviors that teachers and administrators may deem disruptive to class activities. It has been a source of controversy since it was created five years ago, including a quarrel over the $10 makeup fees that schools charge for each "U" or unsatisfactory citizenship grade.Recently, members of the Nebo School Board approved a written policy that allows administrators in the district's six junior highs and high schools to manage and use those funds. However, the board also asked school administrators to come up with quarterly reports on the citizenship fees so they can monitor the funds more closely and also examine complaints by some Nebo-area parents that some school administrators use the policy excessively.
"We feel like they've made a concession to us," said Dorothy Bryson, an organizer of Citizens For Common Sense in the Nebo School District, a group opposing many of the district's actions, including the citizenship policy.
"We feel like maybe they're starting to listen to us and take us seriously, so we're very heartened," Bryson said.
Bryson and other group founders Carolyn Hunt and Debbie Hendrickson said that despite the action from the board they will continue their fight to have the policy rescinded.
Hunt said that an earlier movement resulted in a 5,000-signature petition to rescind the citizenship policy. Bryson added that other school districts surrounding Nebo have discontinued such policies, saying they were "ineffective and (district leaders) realized parents did not like (them)."
For the 1991-92 school year, the district's schools collected more than $22,000 from the makeup fees, a figure that parallels the previous school year. Nebo has spent approximately $26,000 in each of those two years for citizenship expenses (including paying teachers and buying supplies for citizenship makeup classes).
Group members say that though they're happy the district has released those figures, they would like to see the number of "U"s given at each school and also would like to have accounting from the previous three years the district has run the program.
Additionally, the group said that penalties from the policy are destructive, working against recent programs to promote self-esteem in some of the schools involved. Those penalties may include suspension or expulsion, forcing some students to attend Landmark High School, Nebo's "alternative high."
"We are told that, by far, the biggest percentage of Landmark students are from Payson. Why is that?" Bryson asked.
The group has held two meetings, including one recently in Payson that mobilized more than 60 Nebo-area parents. Parents may get more information on the group and its meeting from Bryson at 465-3348.