District of Innovation

One of the amendments to Frisco ISD's District of Innovation Plan is an exemption from a requirement to hire certified teachers in certain courses, such as career and technology and world language.

The Frisco ISD Board of Trustees on Wednesday approved four amendments to its District of Innovation (DOI) plan.

FISD adopted its DOI Plan in 2017, which is expected to remain in place until 2022. It included three exemptions from state law related to school start date, campus behavior coordinators and minutes of instruction for pre-kindergarten.

A DOI committee recently came up with four other exemptions members said would help the district achieve its goals.

One of those is removing the requirement that only certified teachers can be hired. District officials said there are certain subjects where finding certified teachers can be challenging.

“While our intent is to not make this the norm, in such areas where we have hard to fill positions such as career and technical education and world languages, where student interest can be negatively impacted by limited availability of these courses, we’ve asked for this recommendation,” said Allison Ginn, coordinator of world languages and PE and health.

Ginn said American Sign Language, Japanese and Hindi are examples of world language courses that could be impacted by the change, as well as law enforcement and health science.

She said the district would create qualification criteria, which could include professional work experience, training or education in the content area, active or relevant professional industry certification, a combination of those and demonstration of successfully working with students.

Pamela Linton, chief human resource officer, said even if a non-certified teacher is hired, they still have to go through training and background checks like every other new hire does.

The second amendment is to provide all new principals, teachers, counselors and other employees who are in good standing with a second year of probationary status to allow more time to evaluate their skills and abilities.

“Current requirements don’t always allow for sufficient time to effectively evaluate the full-range skills and abilities of a teacher,” said James Hill, managing director of human resources.

A third amendment is to provide flexibility in the state law that requires a student to be in class 90 percent of the school year.

Tiffany Carey, director of innovative learning, said this amendment will provide flexibility for students who have extenuating circumstances that make it difficult to be in the classroom as much as other students.

“While this rule does not get rid of compulsory attendance, what we’re looking at are virtual and online programs that might be able to help students who need a different location, path or pace while learning,” Carey said.

She said this amendment will help students catch up to FISD’s pace if they transferred in from another district that was at a different pace.

Carey said the change will provide flexibility for students wishing to participate in the Collin College Technical Campus, which will be opening soon, as well as FISD’s associate’s degree program.

“What we might end up doing is finding different types of hybrid courses where students are able to work part of the day online and part of the day in the classroom,” Carey said.

Carey said this past school year there were more than 100 students who were in outpatient treatment facilities.

“Those students are gone for four to six weeks while they receive care,” Carey said.

She said FISD will be opening an in-patient facility in August so that students who leave the district to be closer to their care center can stay in the district.

A fourth amendment calls for establishing a district protocol for quickly responding to a kindergartener through second-grader’s behavior.

Monica Jackson, managing director of student services, said occasionally a student of that age displays behavior that warrants removal, even though it doesn’t fit into categories of weapons, violent offenses or being under the influence.

An example is persistent misbehavior, such as engaging in aggressive physical contact with another student or using school property to act aggressively toward another student.

While district officials said suspension is a last resort, they said having flexibility is important to give the campus time to develop a plan to address the student who may be a danger to themselves or others.

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