Handbook

Hello Gainesville Middle School Families!
Welcome to the home of the Red Elephants. I am excited to welcome our students and families to a new and exciting school year. I am looking forward to a year of thriving success and opportunities for growth and expansion of a rigorous curriculum, engaging classroom experiences, and partnerships between the school, parents, and the community. Gainesville Middle School serves the total child by building a strong system of support for students as they transition from elementary school and prepare to enter high school. Middle School is a special time of rapid growth and development for adolescent students. I hope we can help make this time of unexpected firsts as smooth as possible. It is also a time to teach lifelong skills that will set a strong foundation for high school and beyond. Our expectation is that all students are READY, RESPECTFUL, RESPONSIBLE, ROLE MODELS. This handbook is specific to Gainesville Middle School and includes the Gainesville City Schools Student Code of Conduct. As questions or concerns arise throughout the year, please use the information contained in this document to help guide productive discussions.
Thank you for your continued support.
Mrs. Misty Freeman, Principal Gainesville Middle School

FOREWORD


It is the purpose of the Gainesville City School System (GCSS) to operate each school in a manner that will provide an orderly process of education that ensures the welfare and safety of all students who attend the schools within the district. In accordance with that purpose, the Board of Education has adopted a policy that requires all schools to provide codes of conduct. These require students to conduct themselves at all times in a manner that facilitates an optimum learning environment for themselves and others. GCSS has adopted this Code to support the creation of a safe learning environment for all members of the school community. The purpose of this Code is to state clearly our standards for acceptable conduct of students. The Code also explains the consequences for not meeting these standards of conduct. This Code establishes a strict policy for conduct that endangers the safety of the schools and/or disrupts the educational experience for other students. GCSS does not permit corporal punishment. The Code also sets forth the discipline procedures for students who have committed violations of the Code. This Code is not meant to be a contract between the District and the students, and may be amended at any time. It is a place for GCSS to explain certain policies applicable to students.

We expect students to:
● Respect each other
● Respect school district employees
● Obey student behavior policies adopted by the Board of Education
● Obey rules established by individual schools

The school’s primary goal is to educate, not to punish; however, when the behavior of an individual student comes in conflict with the rights of others, corrective actions may be necessary for the benefit of that individual and the school as a whole. Accordingly, students shall be governed by the policies, regulations and rules set forth in this Code of Conduct.

The Code of Conduct is effective during the following times and in the following places:
● At bus stop
● At school or on school property at any time
● Off school property at any school activity, function or event and while traveling to and from such events
● On vehicles provided for student transportation by the school system

In addition, students may be disciplined for felonious conduct off campus, which may pose a threat to the school’s learning environment or the safety of students and employees.

Parents/guardians are encouraged to become familiar with the Code of Conduct and to be supportive of it in their daily communication with their children and others in the community. We ask your cooperation in sharing this responsibility for maintaining a proper learning environment. 

AUTHORITY OF THE PRINCIPAL


The principal is the designated leader of the school and, in concert with the staff, is responsible for the orderly operation of the school. In cases of disruptive, disorderly or dangerous conduct not covered in this Code, the principal may undertake corrective measures, which he or she believes to be in the best interest of the student, and the school provided any such action does not violate school board policy or procedures.

Students Should:
Participate fully in the learning process. Students need to report to school and class on time, attend all regularly scheduled classes, remain in class until excused or dismissed, pay attention to instruction, complete assignments to the best of their ability, and ask for help when needed.

Avoid behavior that impairs their own or other students’ educational achievement. Students should know and avoid the behaviors prohibited by this code, take care of books and other instructional materials, and cooperate with others.

Show respect for the knowledge and authority of teachers, administrators, and other school employees. Students must obey reasonable directions, use acceptable and courteous language, avoid being rude and follow school rules and procedures.

Recognize and respect the rights of other students and adults. All students should show concern for and encouragement of educational achievements and participation of others in curricular and extra-curricular activities.

Disciplinary action for violations of expected behaviors will include appropriate hearings and reviews. In all cases, the rights of individuals will be ensured and protected. The Gainesville City School System will make every reasonable effort to administer the discipline code consistently in all schools. When applicable, individualized plans (i.e. IEP, 504, and SST) will be reviewed for appropriate consequences. 

ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS –POLICY JBC

Age Eligibility
● All students, including homeless, who have attained the age of five by September 1st, shall be eligible to enroll in kindergarten.
● Those who have attained the age of 6 by September 1st shall be eligible for first grade.
● Students are eligible to attend school unless they attain the age of 20 by September 1 or they have received a high school diploma or the equivalent as if they have dropped out of school for a quarter or more. Students who have not dropped out of school for a quarter or more are eligible to attend school unless they attain the age of 21 by September 1st.
● Mandatory attendance age for enrollment is age 6. Every parent, guardian, or other person residing in Georgia having control or charge of any child or children between their sixth and sixteenth birthdays is required to enroll and send such child or children in their care to a public or private school or provide a home study program for these children which meets the requirements set forth in law. If a student is enrolled prior to age 6 in a kindergarten program and attends for 20 days, then the child is subject to the provisions of compulsory school attendance.
● Students who were legal residents of one or more other states or countries for a period of two years immediately prior to moving to Georgia, and who were legally enrolled in a public kindergarten or first grade, or a kindergarten or first grade accredited by a state or regional association or the equivalent thereof shall be eligible for enrollment in the appropriate general or special education program if such child will attain the age of five for kindergarten or six for first grade by December 31 and is otherwise qualified
● Special education students, including homeless, are eligible for enrollment in appropriate education programs until they receive a high school diploma or equivalent or they reach their twenty-second (22) birthday, whichever comes first; provided, however they were enrolled during the preceding school year and had an approved Individualized Education Plan (IEP) which indicated that a successive year of enrollment was needed.

STUDENT ENROLLMENT/PROOF OF RESIDENCY

Gainesville City Schools requires the parent or guardian to provide proof of residency in the district unless the student is homeless. The student must live with the authorized person(s) who resides within the school district.

Proof of Residency - Gainesville City Schools requires the parent or guardian to provide 2 proofs of residency in the district at the time a student is initially enrolled in a school. Proof of residency may be verified by presenting one from each column below (must include address), and a picture ID of the enrolling parent/guardian. 

Present one of the following AND   One of the following:
 Non-contingent sales contract  Current gas bill (within last 30 days)
 Current lease/rental agreement   Current water bill (within last 30 days) 
 Most recent income tax return or IRS Form 1099  Current electric bill (within last 30 days)
 Current paycheck stub   Cable/Internet bill (with service address) 
 Current warranty or quitclaim deed  
 Current home purchase agreement   
 Current homeowner’s insurance policy  

Students under the age of 18 must be accompanied by one of the following authorized individuals
● Parent (natural or adopted)
● Legal guardian or other person legally entitled to act on behalf of the child
● Foster parents appointed by a state agency
● Sponsor for an approved International Exchange Program.

The person who is enrolling a student should provide one of the following acceptable forms of identification for purposes of enrollment
▪ A driver’s license
▪ A state identification card
▪ A passport

When a student's family is residing in the home or apartment of another individual, the following is necessary for enrollment
● A notarized affidavit signed by the individual with whom the student's parent/guardian is residing verifying that enrolling parent/guardian is residing in that home or apartment. This affidavit must be notarized and witnessed at one of the Gainesville City School System locations. and
● Proof of residency documents for that individual with whom parent/guardian is residing (See Proof of Residency documents above)

For your convenience, registration is available at the Registration/International Center, located at 508 Oak Street Gainesville, GA 30501. Registration is not available at the schools. Please contact the Registration/International Center at (770) 536-5275.

Proof of residence is subject to investigation. Students enrolled under false information are illegally enrolled and will be withdrawn from school. Also, knowingly and willfully providing false information regarding proof of residence violates state law and may subject one to fine and /or imprisonment (O.C.G.A. 16-10-20).

IMMUNIZATION CERTIFICATES

All students entering or attending Grades Pre-K through 12th grade in the Gainesville City School System are required to have a complete Georgia Certificate of Immunization (Form 3231) in accordance with Georgia State Law , O.C.G.A. 20- 2-771 and Regulations, Chapter 290-5-4. All students must be immunized against disease as specified by the Georgia Department of Human Resources, or have a medical or religious exemption on file at the school.

Beginning in the 2014- 2015 school year, ALL 7th grade students and NEW entrants into Georgia schools grade 8th through 12th grade, are required to have one dose of Meningococcal (meningitis) conjugate vaccine and Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) booster. Immunization information and flyers for Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten and 7th Grade students are available on the website. All students enrolled in a Georgia Public School for the first time are required to file a completed Certificate of Vision, Hearing, Dental and Nutrition Screening (Form 3300) in accordance with Georgia Regulations, Chapter 290-5-31. 

ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENTS--POLICY JBD 

The Gainesville City Board of Education subscribes to a policy of good attendance  and punctuality as essential to the academic performance for all students. It is the policy of the Gainesville City School Board to encourage students to attend school regularly and  participate in all class activities physically or virtually on a daily basis.

The Gainesville City School Board believes that students should arrive at school on time and be in class on time each day. In order to foster regular attendance, the Gainesville City School System shall comply with all requirements of state law, State Board of Education rule, and the Student Attendance Protocol developed by Gainesville City Schools’ Student Attendance Protocol Committee. The Board strongly believes that every day at school is important and that no student should be absent except for extraordinary reasons and encourages students and their parents to assume responsibility for being punctual and regular in attendance.

Georgia law, O.C.G.A. § 20-2-690.1, states that a person who fails to send a child to school may be charged with a misdemeanor. For each violation of the statute, a court may subject this person to a fine not less than $25.00 and not greater than $100.00, imprisonment not to exceed thirty (30) days, community service, or any combination of such penalties. Each day's absence after the school notifies the person of five unexcused days of absence shall be considered a separate offense of the statute.

For the purposes of this Policy, a child between his/her sixth and sixteenth birthdays shall be considered truant if the child has more than five days of unexcused absences in a school year. A truant student with more than ten days of unexcused absences within a school year may identified as a child in need of services in accordance with O.C.G.A. § 15-11- 380.

School Attendance Compulsory Education Law (O.C.G.A. 20-2-690.1) requires that every parent/guardian or other person who has control of any child between the ages of 6 and 16 shall enroll and send such child to school. All children enrolled for 20 calendar days or more in the public schools of this state prior to their seventh birthday shall become subject to the provisions of the compulsory school attendance law. State Board of Education policy defines the school year as 180 attendance days.
Full Day Attendance Students are expected to be in attendance for the full school day. Students who check-in late or check-out early should submit a written note from their parent/guardian explaining their absence. Disciplinary action may be taken against students not in attendance for the full school day for reasons that cannot be excused. 

Absence From School For a Portion of the School Day Individual students who have emergencies necessitating their absence from school for a portion of the school day must have been present for one-half of the instructional day in order to be counted present. When there is cause necessitating an individual student to be excused from school for a portion of the school day, the student shall be released from school only to his/her parent(s), to a person properly identified to the school administration, or upon request by letter or telephone from the parent(s).

Student Absences Whenever students are absent, for any reason, their parent/guardian must send a signed and dated written explanation of the absence to their child’s teacher no later than the Third Day following the students return to school after their absence. An automated phone call will be made to parents/guardians when their child is absent from class.

It is the policy of the Board to excuse students from school for the following reasons: Written justification for any absence must be submitted by the student.

Excused absences include the following:

  • Personal illness

  • Death or illness in the immediate family

  • Religious holidays

  • Instance where attendance by the student would be hazardous

  • When mandated by government agency

  • One day to register to vote

  • Pre-arranged absence approved by an administrator

  • Visiting with a U.S. military parent prior to or on leave from overseas deployment (limited to 5 days per school year)

  • Students are to be counted present when serving as page for the General Assembly.

  • Students in foster care are to be counted present when attending court proceedings related to their foster care

Students are expected and permitted to make up all work for credit missed due to absences. This shall include all assignments, quizzes, and tests. Students who are absent will be responsible for submitting assignments and/or taking scheduled tests/quizzes in accordance with school rules.

Unexcused Absences The definition of an unexcused absence is "absence from school with or without parents' consent for reasons other than those specified within this policy."

Make-up work - unexcused absences Students will be allowed to make up all work missed during an unexcused absence in accordance with school rules. 

Elementary and Middle School: Absence Policy Students shall attend school regularly and have no more than 5 absences. Excessive absences shall be reported, investigated and resolved always keeping the student's best interests in mind.

ted, investigated and resolved always keeping the student's best interests in mind.

  1. Students absent more than 5 days will be referred to the system's social worker who will verify the reason for a student's absence.

  2. Since units are not awarded in elementary schools, a student's academic credit will not be affected by this policy.

  3. In extreme absentee cases, juvenile court authorities may be contacted, but only after the system's social worker has investigated the matter thoroughly and makes the referral.

The following regulations are in place in regard to student absences:

  • 0-2 days--Teacher makes positive contact with the student encouraging him/her to be at school (email, phone call, message in planner, PowerSchool calling, Parent Alert postcard

  • 3 days--Teacher will conduct a student/teacher conference; notify parent for conference (conference can be by phone or in person)

  • 4-5 days--Grade level administrator and counselor and/or SEL coach works with student’s team of teachers to come up with intervention for student

  • 6 days--Grade level administrator will set up an attendance meeting with parent; referral to school social worker; 6 day attendance warning letter (District letter)

  • 7 days - Social work referral will be made by school administrator(s), counselor, graduation coach, etc.  if no response or improvement from previous communications.

  • 8+--Tier II interventions for attendance begin 

  • 11+ days--Children in Need of Services (CHINS) referral made by school social worker if no improvement has been made from previous communications

  • 15+ days--A referral to the Solicitor’s office made by the system social worker  if no improvement has been made from previous communications

Tardiness - Students are expected to arrive at school on time. Students who are tardy for school must sign-in before going to class. 

PowerSchool Parent/Student Single Sign On Portal Students and parents may access student attendance, grades, and assignments as well as the daily bulletin containing announcements through the parent/student portal.  Student log-in information is available through guidance; parent log-ins may be obtained by going to the system webpage www.gcssk12.net to sign up for the PowerSchool Single Sign On (SSO) parent portal. This portal allows parents/guardians the ability to view all of their children with one log in name and password.

AWARDING UNITS/TRANSFERRING CREDIT -- POLICY JBC-4

Elementary and middle school students transferring from home study programs, non-accredited schools or non-traditional educational centers will be placed at the appropriate grade level in a probationary placement for one 9-week grading period. Student placement may also be based on satisfactory performance on standardized or locally developed tests focusing on grade level or subject area.

  • Local tests, including SLOs and pre/post tests, may be utilized in order to provide additional information concerning student placement.

  • Upon examination of test results and classroom performance, the final placement decision rests with the Principal and/or placement committee.

BUS CONDUCT

Transportation service for students is a privilege, not a right.  Students will be allowed to ride Gainesville City Schools’ buses as long as they remain a student in good standing for that purpose.  A student in good standing is one who follows the rules.  Students are responsible for maintaining good behavior while riding the school bus.  The school bus is considered school property; therefore, all rules that apply to school building also apply to school buses.

  1. Students should be at designated bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is to arrive.

  2. Students are expected to get off at their designated stop unless they have a note approved from the school which requires note from parent to the school to verify change of bus stop. Parents should send a written note to the school or call the school by 12:00 PM to make changes in afternoon bus transportation for their child.

  3. Students shall be permitted to use electronic devices during the operation of a school bus provided that the safety of staff members and other bus riders is not jeopardized.

  4. No excessive noise or rowdy behavior is permissible on the bus.  Normal conversations is allowed except when at railroad crossing, red lights, and stop signs.  At these times there shall be no talking for safety.

  5. A student shall immediately take his/her seat upon entering the bus and remain seated in that seat until the bus stops and it is time to get off.

  6. Head, hands and feet shall be kept inside the bus at all times.

  7. Throwing any article inside the bus or at the bus is strictly prohibited.

  8. No fighting allowed on the bus.

  9. Students must wait for the bus in an orderly manner a safe distance off the roadway.  The bus shall come to a complete stop before students move toward the bus.  Students must not rush or walk between buses when loading or unloading

  10. Lighters, matches, or other igniting devices, as well as smoking on the bus are strictly prohibited.

  11. Eating or drinking on the bus will not be allowed.

  12. Student will not use profane or foul language at any time.

  13. Students shall not deface or damage the bus (i.e., writing or painting inside or outside the bus). Any guilty of such acts will pay the cost of repairs

  14.  Students will not open the emergency door except for emergencies when instructed by the bus driver to do so.

  15.  Students who must cross the road after being discharged from the school bus must cross in front of the stopped school bus.

  16.  Students should always be respectful to the bus driver and follow directions to ensure safety. 

  17.  For the safety and protection of riders and drivers, buses are equipped with video cameras and audio capabilities. Videos may be used for situations occurring on the bus.

If a student fails to follow bus rules, the bus driver will report behavior to the Transportation Director. The Transportation Director will communicate with the school through a “BUS TICKET” for disciplinary actions following the district progressive discipline practices. Communication from the school to Transportation Director is communicated for follow-up with drivers. 

ADDITIONAL BUS NOTES

  • Parents/guardians are responsible for providing transportation for students suspended from riding the bus. 

  • Bus drivers are in complete charge at all times and are authorized to assign seats. 

  • Conversation with the driver or behavior distracting the driver by students during loading and unloading of buses should be avoided. During this critical time complete concentration by the driver is required. 

  • Parents/guardians with concerns or complaints that need to be addressed by the bus driver should contact the school as first contact. Under no circumstances should parents distract the driver by boarding the bus or complaining at the bus stop. Student safety must be top priority during this time. 

  • Any action or disturbance that endangers the well-being of any student will be handled in accordance with the student discipline section of this handbook. 

  • It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly disrupt or interfere with the operation of any public school, public school bus, or public school bus stop as designated by local school boards of education. Any person violating this Code section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature (OCGA 20-2-1181)

CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT – POLICY JGI
 

All employees of the Gainesville City School System, as well as persons who attend to a child pursuant to their duties as a volunteer for the school system, who have reason or cause to believe that suspected child abuse has occurred shall notify the principal or the school system’s designee, who shall report such abuse immediately, but in no case later than 24 hours from the time there is reasonable cause to believe that suspected child abuse has occurred, in accordance with Georgia law and the protocol for handling child abuse cases for Hall County, Georgia.

Under no circumstances shall the principal or designee to whom a report of child abuse has been made exercise any control, restraint, modification or make any other change to the information provided by a mandated reporter, although the reporter may be consulted prior to the making of a report and may provide any additional, relevant and necessary information when making the report.

CHRONIC DISCIPLINARY STUDENT ACT (O.C.G.A. 20-2-764

A chronic disciplinary problem student is a student who exhibits a pattern of behavioral characteristics which interfere with the learning process of students around him or her and which are likely to recur. Georgia law mandates that any time a teacher or principal identifies a student as a chronic disciplinary problem student, the principal shall notify by telephone call and by mail the student’s parent/guardian of the disciplinary problem, invite the parent/guardian to observe the student in a classroom situation, and request at least one parent/guardian to attend a conference to devise a disciplinary and behavioral correction plan. Georgia law also states that before any chronic disciplinary problem student is permitted to return to school from a suspension or expulsion, the school shall request by telephone call and by mail, at least one parent/guardian to schedule and attend a conference to devise a disciplinary and behavioral correction plan. The law allows a local board of education to petition the juvenile court to require a parent/guardian to attend a school conference. If the court finds that the parent /guardian has willfully and unreasonably failed to attend a conference requested by the principal pursuant to the laws cited above, the court may order the parent/guardian to participate in such programs or such treatment as the court deems appropriate to improve the student’s behavior, or both. After notice and opportunity for hearing, the court may impose a fine, not to exceed $500.00, on a parent/guardian who willfully disobeys an order of the court under this law.


DISCIPLINE PROCEDURES (PROGRESSIVE DISCIPLINE) –POLICY JCDA

It is the policy of the Gainesville City Board of Education that each school within this school district shall develop and implement age-appropriate student codes of conduct designed to improve the student learning environment and which will comply with state law and State Board of Education Rule 160-4-8-.15.  Each code of conduct shall include the following:

  1. Standards for student behavior designed to create the expectation that students will behave themselves in such a way so as to facilitate a learning environment for themselves and other students.  The standards should be designed also to encourage students to respect each other and school district employees, to motivate students to obey student behavior policies adopted by this board and to obey student behavior rules established at each school within this school district

  2. Student support processes designed to consider, as appropriate in light of the severity of the behavioral problem, support services available at each school, the school system and other public entities or community organizations which may assist students to address behavioral problems;

  3. Progressive discipline processes designed to create the expectation that the degree of discipline imposed by each school will be in proportion to the severity of the behavior of a particular student, the previous discipline history of the student and other relevant factors, while ensuring that each student receives the due process mandated by federal and state law;

  4. Parental involvement processes designed to enable parents, guardians, teachers and school administrators to work together to improve and enhance student behavior and academic performance.  The process should enable parents, guardians and school employees to communicate freely their concerns about student behaviors which detract from the learning environment.

  5. All other specific requirements as set forth in any existing State Board of Education Rule or in Georgia law.


Each school shall involve parents in developing and updating student codes of conduct.  Each code shall require disciplinary action for each infraction of the code.  All student codes of conduct shall be submitted to the board for approval.


The student code of conduct shall be distributed to each student and the student’s parents or guardians during the first week of school and upon enrollment of each new student.  The parents shall be requested to sign an acknowledgment of the receipt of the code of conduct and return promptly the acknowledgment to the school.  The student code of conduct is available on the district website.