Bexley News

Academic integrity

Revised policy likely to be rehashed


A little more than a month after Bexley's school board agreed on an updated academic integrity policy, revisions already are being discussed.

Prompted by student concerns, Bexley City Schools officials revised the district's academic integrity policy to better deal with students caught cheating, without suppressing learning. It was officially adopted at the board's regular monthly meeting last November.

Both the district's staff and board members spent hours working on the revised policy, which outlines both the definition of academic integrity and the consequences if caught cheating.

Regardless of the work before its approval, it likely will come up for revision early this year.

Suzanne Goldsmith-Hirsch, marketing and communications coordinator for the Bexley Education Foundation and a parent of a Bexley student, spoke out at the December board of education meeting, voicing concerns about the newly revised policy.

"I understand suspending students from extracurricular activities, because taking part in these is a privilege, but the idea of suspension from school seems excessive," she said, eluding to the fact that students are to be suspended from school for copying another's homework.

"I think unnecessarily harsh implications send the wrong message."

Later in the meeting, board Vice President Marlee Snowdon agreed.

"I don't think we should suspend someone for copying homework the first time they do it," she told her fellow board members.

Superintendent Mike Johnson said feedback has been mixed from administrators who are looking for a little wiggle room in the policy so that teachers can make judgment calls.

But distinctly identifying offenses and consequences was one of the board's main goals in revising the policy.

"Part of making the policy clearer is that we asked the administration to better define terms used in the policy such as 'minor' or 'major' offenses," Snowdon said late last year.

The language of the policy defines a "minor" offense as one that "does not significantly impact the content of the academic product delivered by the student and may occur due to student oversight or error." A student failing to cite material using quotation marks is considered a minor offense.

A "major" offense, according to the policy, "significantly impacts the content of the academic product delivered by the student or consists of repeated minor violations." Plagiarism in which a student copies the homework of another student is considered a major offense.

Consequences for each, at each grade level, are spelled out in the policy.

Board members agreed to table any further discussion on the policy until this year.

The board will hold its first meeting of 2014 at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 13. There will be a budget session and organizational meeting, during which the panel will elect a president and vice president for the year.

The two sessions will immediately be followed by the group's regular monthly meeting.

During its organizational meeting, the panel will swear in two returning board members, Snowdon and Carol Fey, along with its newest member, John Barno.

The meetings will be held at the Cassingham Complex Community Room, 326 S. Cassingham Road in Bexley.