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Richmond School Board continues to discuss updates to ‘Homebound Instruction’ policy, procedures

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Richmond City School Board received an update on the changes being made to both “Homebound” and “Home-based” learning during Monday night’s meeting, though no action was taken.

Solomon Jefferson, the Chief Academic Officer for Secondary Schools, made a presentation before the board discussing the amended policy and new procedures for Richmond students enrolled in at-home schooling programs.

These programs are available to students who, for various reasons, may not be able to attend classes in person, either temporarily or permanently.

The primary policy concern involved Homebound and Home-based students’ attendance in school activities. No student enrolled in these programs is meant to attend school-related activities without proper approval.

Huguenot High School student Shawn Jackson, who was shot and killed outside of the Altria Theater following the school’s June 2023 graduation ceremony, was a Homebound student. Various concerns known to school officials regarding Jackson’s safety and well-being were not appropriately considered when he was allowed to participate in graduation, according to a third-party report.

Additionally, the person who allegedly acted as the then-Huguenot High School principal’s designee in making the decision on Jackson’s certification was not actually authorized to be that designee.

Now, nine months following Jackson’s death and a few weeks after Amari Pollard pled guilty to his murder, officials are attempting to address policy discrepancies that, according to the third-party report, contributed to Jackson’s attendance at graduation.

While no action was taken at this meeting, Jefferson outlined the changes being made to policy and the procedures being developed to see that policy carried out.

These changes include language specifying that the student’s principal, the superintendent or someone specifically designated by the superintendent must be involved in clearing a Homebound or Home-based student for attendance at school activities. Further information on the changes presented can be found here.

Overall, the board appeared to appreciate the efforts being made, though Jefferson was asked several questions by various members about guaranteeing appropriate amounts of communication across the board.

The board members expressed concern about lacking communication between families and schools, between schools and medical providers and between school administration and higher-ups, such as Superintendant Jason Kamras. As an example, Board Chair Stephanie Rizzi said she had been contacted last week about a student not receiving needed work.

Jefferson said the handbook for home-based services continues to be worked on and a revised version will be released soon. Board members asked that changes be included such as accurate and thorough school contact information for parents, page numbers for easier navigation and an improved Frequently Asked Questions section.

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