The Lawrence school board will release a draft next month of a 4-inch-thick policy manual to provide fresh guidance on the district's approach to everything from absences to yearbooks.
Board members have worked one year on a page-by-page, word-by-word revision of the manual, which consultants determined in 1999 contained outdated and contradictory policies.
"Policy is not exciting, but it's the backbone of our decision-making," Interim Supt. Randy Weseman said.
The policy book will go on public view Oct. 2 at the district's headquarters, 110 McDonald Drive, and Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt. Specific sections can be provided to residents upon written request to the district. There also are plans to post the entire document on the district's Web site, Weseman said.
As expected, the board's draft adds "sexual orientation" to the list of characteristics that district employees and students may not discriminate against.
The topic created intense controversy in 1995 before the Lawrence City Commission passed an ordinance adding sexual orientation to the list of protected categories in the city's civil rights ordinance.
Weseman said another section likely to stir debate clarifies board policy on open expression of religious beliefs in the public school district.
"Religion in schools has garnered some questions from the public," he said.
He said there was no precise method of anticipating all areas that might elicit discord among patrons.
"As the public reviews this," Weseman said, "they may have a variety of opinions."
The board will announce meeting dates when specific sections are brought for first and second readings. That, officials say, will make it easier for the public to communicate to the board its views on the proposed policies.
For example, a tentative schedule calls for sections on school district organization, school board operations and administration to be up for first reading Oct. 10, but final action on these sections wouldn't occur until Nov. 6.