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El Paso County Colorado District 49

D 49 revises supplemental materials policy

More than a year ago, parents of students at Falcon School District 49 expressed concern to D 49 leaders about movies being shown in the classrooms. In response, D 49 board of directors asked Sandy Collins, then director of secondary education and learning services, to form a task force to address the issue.Based on input from the task force, comprised of parents and teachers, revisions were made to the district’s instructional and resources policy. The board approved the revisions in September.”We looked at other policies at other school districts, and we tried to follow the board’s direction,” Collins said.Assistant superintendent Eric Paugh said the revised policy includes an expanded definition of the term “controversial.” According to the policy, controversial is defined as “characterized by significant differences of opinion usually generated from differing underlying values, beliefs, and interests, which produce significant social tension and which are not necessarily resolvable by reference to accepted facts.”Examples of controversial learning resources include “those that depict explicit sexual conduct, graphic violence, profanities, drug use, or other socially undesirable behaviors, or materials that are likely to divide the community along racial, ethnic, or religious lines.”The use of controversial material requires permission from both parents and the school’s principal.Paugh said the revised policy also includes a new worksheet and checklist for selecting supplementary materials. When considering supplementary materials, the teacher must abide by the following:

  • The teacher must preview all movies and videos.
  • All movies must comply with copyright laws.
  • All materials must be clearly related to and supportive of the course curriculum.
  • For non-rated movies, videos, excerpts, (including videos taped from television); teachers must use a flow chart to determine whether additional guidelines are necessary.
  • Comparable alternative activities related to the instructional unit should be planned for students who do not participate or who have not returned a permission slip.
The policy also uses grade levels and the Motion Picture Association’s Code of Self-Regulation to determine when parental permission is required to show a movie in school.The following chart outlines the guidelines.
Grade levelGPGPG-13R
Pre-K-5No prior permission requiredPrior permission requiredMay not be shownMay not be shown
6-8No prior permission requiredPrior permission requiredPrior permission requiredMay not be shown
9-12No prior permission requiredNo prior permission requiredPrior permission requiredExcerpts may be shown with prior permission
Teachers must notify parents at least five days in advance if they want to show a movie that requires parental permission. The permission form includes the name of the movie and its rating, the rationale for showing the movie, a description of an alternative activity if the parent does not grant permission and the parent’s signature if permission is granted.The revised policy is designed “so that no one will feel offended or they feel like they’re left out,” Paugh said. “Our teachers do a wonderful job. This just puts some safeguards in place to help the teacher.”One teacher expressed concern with the new guidelines.At a board meeting in September, Sand Creek High School teacher Elaine Olsen said she hoped the board would reconsider the revisions. “I appreciate what you have done,” she told the board, “but teachers need more freedom, and parents need more choice.”

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