• Annual Notification to Parents

    Gaston County Schools 
    NOTE: The “Annual Notification to Parents” information is included in the “Student Code of Conduct and Annual Notification to Parents” booklet that is distributed to students, parents, and staff at the beginning of the school year.  To obtain a copy of the booklet, contact the Gaston County Schools Communications Department, (704) 866-6117. 

    Board of Education Policies
    The following Gaston County Board of Education policies may be of particular interest to parents, students, community volunteers, and other citizens. For the complete Board of Education policy manual, please visit the Gaston County Schools website (www.gaston.k12.nc.us) and click on the Board of Education tab. 

    If you are not able to access the Board of Education policy manual online, please contact your school principal or the Gaston County Schools Communications Department, (704) 866-6117, to review a copy of the policy manual. 

    Policy 3470 Student Records
    Policy 3600 Counseling Program
    Policy 4020 Parental Involvement
    Policy 4021 Title I Parent and Family Engagement
    Policy 4030 Student and Parent Grievance Procedure
    Policy 4304-R Rules for Use of Seclusion and Restraint in Schools
    Policy 4329/7311 Bullying and Harassing Behavior Prohibited
    Policy 4331 Assaults and Threats
    Policy 4339 School-Level Investigations
    Policy 4375/7310 Staff-Student Relations
    Policy 5010 School Volunteers
    Policy 7220 Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disabilities
    Policy 7232 Discrimination and Harassment in the Workplace
    Policy 1710/4023/7230 Discrimination and Harassment Prohibited by Federal Law
    Policy 1720/4031/7235 Title IX Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex
    Policy 1725/4035/7236 Title IX Sexual Harassment-Prohibited Conduct and Reporting Process 
    Policy 1726/4036/7237 Title IX Sexual Harassment Grievance Process

    At the beginning of each academic year, school districts are required to provide students and their parents with certain annual notices. Review the following information carefully and contact your child’s principal if you have questions. 

    A. Student Records:  Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
    The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a federal law, gives parents and students over eighteen (18) years of age (“eligible students”) certain rights with respect to the student’s education records.  These rights are:

    • The right to inspect and review your child’s education records within forty-five (45) days of the day the school receives a request for access.  You should submit to the school principal a written request that identifies the record(s) you wish to inspect.  The principal will make arrangements for access and notify you of the time and place where the records may be inspected.
    • The right to request an amendment of your child’s education records that you believe are inaccurate or misleading.  You should write to the school principal, clearly identify the part of the record you want changed and specify why it is inaccurate or misleading.  If the school decides not to amend the record as requested, the school will notify you of the decision and advise you of your right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment.  Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to you when you are notified of the right to a hearing.
    • The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in your child’s education records.  FERPA requires that the school obtain your written consent prior to the disclosure of any such information with certain exceptions.  School officials with a legitimate educational interest are an exception and do not need parental consent.  For a complete list of the disclosures that elementary and secondary schools may make without parental consent, see 34 CFR Part 99.37 of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
    • A school official includes any of the following when that person has a “legitimate educational interest” in having access to the information:
    1. Any administrator, certified staff member, or support staff member (including health, medical, safety, and security staff) employed by the school district;
    2. A school board member;
    3. A contractor, consultant, volunteer, or other party to whom the school district has outsourced services or functions, such as (but not limited to) an attorney, auditor, cloud storage provider, consultant, expert witness, hearing officer, law enforcement unit, investigator, insurer/insurance company adjuster, investigator, or any other claims representative, medical providers or consultants, or counselors/therapists, provided that the person is performing a service or function for which the school district would otherwise use employees, is under the direct control of the school district with respect to the use and maintenance of education records, and is subject to FERPA requirements governing the use and re-disclosure of PII (Personally Identifiable Information) from education records;
    4. A person serving on a committee appointed by the school board or by the administration of the school district, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee or other review committee.

    A school official has a “legitimate educational interest” if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility.

    • The school district may release “directory information” about a student unless you have advised the school to the contrary. The school district has designated the following information as directory information:
    • Student’s name
    • Address
    • Date and place of birth
    • Telephone listing
    • Electronic mail address
    • Photograph
    • Participation in officially recognized activities and sports 
    • Weight and height of members of athletic teams
    • Diplomas (including endorsements earned), industry credentials/certifications, and awards received
    • Grade level
    • Most recent school or institution attended by the student
    • Dates of attendance 

    The primary purpose of directory information is to allow the school to include this type of information from your child’s education records in certain school publications.  Examples include:  

    1. A playbill, showing your student’s role in a drama production;
    2. The annual yearbook;

    iii. Honor roll or other recognition lists;

    1. Graduation programs; or 
    2. Sports activity sheets, showing weight and height of team members.

    Directory information may also be disclosed to outside organizations without your prior written consent.  Outside organizations include, but are not limited to, companies that manufacture class rings or publish yearbooks.  

    In addition, under federal law, we are required to provide military recruiters and institutions of higher education, upon their request, with the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of high school students unless the student or parent has advised the school that they do not want such information disclosed without their prior written consent.  

    If you do not want the school to disclose some or all of the directory information described above from your child’s education records to all or certain recipients without your prior written consent, the school district must be notified in writing within fourteen (14) days of the beginning of the school year or within fourteen (14) days of your enrolling in the school district. An “opt out” is perpetual and can only be rescinded in writing.

    You have the right to file a complaint with the Department of Education concerning alleged failures of the school district to comply with the requirements of FERPA.  The name and address of the office that administers FERPA is:

    Student Privacy Policy Office
    U.S. Department of Education
    400 Maryland Avenue, SW
    Washington, DC  20202-5901

    B. Non-Discrimination: Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; The Rehabilitation Act of 1973(Section 504); and The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)

    Gaston County Schools acknowledges the dignity and worth of all students and employees and strives to create a safe, orderly, caring, and inviting school environment to facilitate student learning and achievement.  The Board prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin, religion, disability, or age (over 40) and will provide equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups as required by law. 

    The Board will not tolerate any form of unlawful discrimination or harassment in any of its education activities or programs.  All forms of prohibited discrimination and harassment are subject to policy 1710/4023/7230 except the following, for which the Board has established more specific policies. 

    • Discrimination and harassment on the basis of sex is addressed in policy 1720/4031/7235, Title IX Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex. 
    • Discrimination and harassment in employment is addressed in policy 7232, Discrimination and Harassment in the Workplace.

    In addition, the process set out for bringing forth complaints does not apply to the following:

    • Complaints of sexual harassment will be brought in accordance with the processes established in policies 1725/4035/7236, Title IX Sexual Harassment – Prohibited Conduct and Reporting Process, and 1726/4036/7237, Title IX Sexual Harassment Grievance Process. 
    • Employee allegations of discrimination or harassment will be addressed using the process established in policy 7232, Discrimination and Harassment in the Workplace. 
    • Allegations regarding or related to the identification, evaluation, educational placement, or free appropriate public education of a student under Section 504 or the IDEA may be raised through the system of procedural safeguards established under policy 7220, Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disabilities, (for Section 504 complaints) or in accordance with the procedures described in Parents Rights and Responsibilities in Special Education, published by the NC Department of Public Instruction (for IDEA complaints).

    Prohibited Behavior
    Students, school system employees, volunteers, and visitors are expected to behave in a civil and respectful manner.  The Board expressly prohibits unlawful discrimination and harassment as defined below by students, employees, Board members, volunteers, or visitors.  “Visitors” includes parents and other family members and individuals from the community, as well as vendors, contractors, and other persons doing business with or performing services for the school system. 

    Reporting Discrimination or Harassment
    Any person who believes that he or she has been discriminated against or harassed in violation of policy 1710/4023/7230 by any student, employee, or other person under the supervision and control of the school system, or any third person who knows or suspects conduct that may constitute discrimination or harassment, should inform a school official designated below.  Reports also may be made anonymously through the anonymous tip line.  School officials may make a preliminary inquiry when a report is received to understand what occurred and to determine whether further action under this policy or otherwise is necessary. 

    Complaints of Discrimination and Harassment
    A student, visitor, or other non-employee individual who believes he or she is the victim of unlawful discrimination or harassment in violation of policy 1710/4023/7230, or any person who has witnessed or who has reliable information that another person has been subject to unlawful discrimination or harassment under this policy, may make a formal written complaint to any of the following persons: 

    1. the principal or assistant principal of the school at which either the alleged victim or alleged perpetrator attends or is employed;
    2. the Section 504 coordinator or the ADA coordinator for claims of discrimination on the basis of a disability; or
    3. for claims of other forms of prohibited discrimination, the applicable civil rights coordinator as listed below in contacts.

    If a written complaint alleges that the perpetrator is an employee, the school official receiving the complaint shall notify the senior human resources official without delay.

    A written complaint alleging that a student has been discriminated against or harassed will be addressed in accordance with policy 1710/4023/7230.  A written complaint alleging that an employee has been discriminated against or harassed will be addressed in accordance with policy 7232, Discrimination and Harassment in the Workplace.  A written complaint alleging that a person who is not a student or employee has been discriminated against or harassed will be addressed in accordance with the general process for resolving complaints provided in policy 5055. 

    Responding to Complaints
    Alleged discrimination or harassment should be reported as soon as possible but no later than 30 days after disclosure or discovery of the facts giving rise to the complaint.  Complaints submitted after the 30-day period may be investigated; however, individuals should recognize that delays in reporting may significantly impair the ability of school officials to investigate and respond to such complaints.  The Superintendent has appointed individuals to coordinate the school system’s efforts to comply with and carry out its responsibilities under federal nondiscrimination laws, including investigating any complaints communicated to school officials alleging noncompliance with those laws.  Inquiries about the application of the nondiscrimination laws may be referred to the designated civil rights coordinator and/or the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education.

    The contact information for the designated civil rights coordinator is as follows:

    Judy Leahy
    Section 504 Coordinator/ADA Coordinator/ Title IX Coordinator
    215 W. Third Avenue
    Gastonia, NC 28054
    704-866-6245

    The coordinator for other nondiscrimination laws is: 

    Joey Clinton
    Executive Director for Human Resources
    1351 Bradford Heights Road
    Gastonia, NC 28054
    704-866-6129

    The contact information for the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights with jurisdiction over North Carolina is as follows:

    400 Maryland Avenue SW
    Washington, DC 20202-1475
    202-453-6020

    C. Students with Disabilities: Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA)
    Pursuant to the IDEA, a federal law, the school district must provide special education services to all children residing in the school district who are between the ages of three (3) and twenty-one (21) who have been diagnosed with or are suspected to have mental, physical or emotional disabilities and who are unable to benefit from a regular school program without special assistance.  If your child or a child you know may qualify for such special assistance, contact:

    Carrie Minnich, Executive Director
    Department for Exceptional Children
    Gaston County Schools
    215 W. Third Avenue
    Gastonia, NC  28052
    (704) 866-6160

    D. Homeless Students: McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act
    For information concerning the educational rights of homeless students, consult board policy 4175 or contact: 

    Jill Payne, Director of Student Support Services
    Gaston County Schools
    943 Osceola Street
    Gastonia, NC 28053
    704-866-2675

    E. Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA)
    PPRA affords parents of elementary and secondary students certain rights regarding the conduct of surveys, collection and use of information for marketing purposes, and certain physical exams.  Parents must consent before students are required to submit to a survey that concerns one or more of the following protected areas (“protected information survey”) if the survey is funded in whole or in part by a program of the U.S. Department of Education:

    1. Political affiliations or beliefs of the student or student’s parent;
    2. Mental or psychological problems of the student or student’s family;
    3. Sex behavior or attitudes;
    4. Illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, or demeaning behavior;
    5. Critical appraisals of others with whom students have close family relationships;
    6. Legally recognized privileged relationships, such as with lawyers, doctors, or ministers;
    7. Religious practices, affiliations, or beliefs of the student or student’s parent; or
    8. Income, other than as required by law to determine program eligibility.

    Parents must receive notice and an opportunity to opt a student out of:

    1. Any other protected information survey, regardless of funding;
    2. Any non-emergency, invasive physical exam or screening required as a condition of attendance, administered by the school district, and not necessary to protect the immediate health and safety of a student, except for hearing, vision, or scoliosis screenings, or any physical exam or screening permitted or required under state law; and
    3. Activities involving collection, disclosure, or use of personal information collected from students for marketing or to sell or otherwise distribute the information to others. (This does not apply to the collection, disclosure, or use of personal information collected from students for the exclusive purpose of developing, evaluating, or providing educational products or services for, or to, students or educational institutions.)

    Parents may inspect, upon request, and before administration or use:

    1. Protected information surveys of students and surveys created by a third party;
    2. Instruments used to collect personal information from students for any of the above marketing, sales, or other distribution purposes; and
    3. Instructional material used as part of the educational curriculum.

    These rights transfer from the parents to a student who is 18 years old or an emancipated minor under state law.

    Parents will be provided reasonable notification of the planned activities and surveys listed below and be provided an opportunity to opt their child out of such activities and surveys. Parents will also be provided an opportunity to review any pertinent surveys. The following is a list of the specific activities and surveys covered under this direct notification requirement:

    • Collection, disclosure, or use of personal information collected from students for marketing, sales, or other distribution.
    • Administration of any protected information survey not funded in whole or in part by the Department of Education.
    • Any non-emergency, invasive physical examination or screening as described above.

    Parents who believe their rights have been violated may file a complaint with:

    Student Privacy Policy Office
    U.S. Department of Education
    400 Maryland Avenue, SW
    Washington, D.C. 20202

    F. Student Health: N.C.G.S. § 115C-375.4
    With the passage of N.C.G.S. 115C-375.4, the school district must provide families with information on influenza and meningococcal diseases and the vaccines that are available to prevent each.  Influenza (“flu”) is caused by a virus that spreads from infected persons to the nose or throat of others.  Influenza can cause fever, sore throat, chills, coughs, headache and muscle aches.  Anyone can get influenza.  Most people are ill with flu for only a few days, but some get much sicker and may need to be hospitalized.  Influenza causes an average of 36,000 deaths each year in the U.S., mostly among the elderly. 

    Influenza vaccine is available in two types.  Inactivated (killed) flu vaccine, given as a shot, has been used in the U.S. for many years.  A live, weakened vaccine, FluMist, was licensed in 2003.  It is sprayed into the nostrils.  It is available for persons age 5-49 years of age.  Influenza viruses change often.  Therefore, influenza vaccine is updated every year.  Protection develops in about two weeks after getting the shot and may last up to a year.  The best time to get the vaccine is in October or November.  Contact your local health department or physician for more details.

    Meningococcal disease is a serious illness, caused by bacteria.  It is the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in children 2-18 years old in the United States.  Meningitis is an infection of the brain and spinal cord coverings.  Meningococcal disease can also cause blood infections.  About 2,600 people get meningococcal disease each year in the U.S.  Ten to fifteen percent of these people die, in spite of treatment with antibiotics.  Of those who live, another 10 percent have chronic complications.  It is most common in infants less than one year of age, international travelers, and people with certain medical conditions.  College freshmen, particularly those who live in dormitories, have a slightly increased risk of getting meningococcal disease.

    Learn more about these vaccines by consulting with your family doctor or contacting the Gaston County Department of Public Health at (704) 853-5000 or visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at http://cdc.gov/vaccines

    Student Suicide Awareness Information Meeting
    Annually, the school counselors in the school hold information meetings with students concerning suicide awareness.  This information includes a developmentally appropriate video and discussion led by the school counselors.  These videos are available for review on the Gaston County Schools website: www.gaston.k12.nc.us. If you have concerns about your student participating in this information meeting, please contact the school counselor no later than the first Friday of school to ask that your student be excluded from the meeting.  Support personnel including school counselors, nurses and social workers are available to assist students who may have questions.  Also, Gaston County Schools has a comprehensive suicide prevention protocol to assess referrals for suicidal ideation.  

    G. Student Health: N.C.G.S. § 115C-47(51)
    North Carolina General Statute § 115C-47(51) requires schools to provide information concerning cervical cancer, cervical dysplasia and human papillomavirus and the vaccines available to prevent these diseases. Information about these diseases and the vaccines can be found at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac.  Those individuals without the internet can contact a school nurse or the Gaston County Health Department at (704) 853-5000. 

    H. North Carolina Safe Surrender Law 
    Pursuant to N.C.G.S. §7B-500(b), a female may legally surrender her newborn baby to a responsible adult without fear of criminal prosecution.  While any responsible adult may receive a newborn, school social workers, school nurses, counselors and law enforcement agents are examples of responsible adults who are familiar with this law.  More information can be found at http://www.ncdhhs.gov/assistance/pregnancy-services/safe-surrender. Those individuals without internet access can contact a school nurse or social worker.   

    I. Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act 
    This notice is provided to you with information regarding the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) Management Plan for Gaston County Schools.  AHERA is a provision of the Toxic Substance Control Act and was passed by Congress in 1986.  It requires schools to “ensure that workers and building occupants, or their legal guardians, are informed at least once each school year about inspections, response actions, and post-response action activities, including periodic re-inspection and surveillance activities that are planned or in progress as well as the availability of the AHERA Management Plan for public review.”  (§763.84(c)) The AHERA Management Plan contains documents of the initial AHERA inspection, six-month periodic surveillances, triennial re-inspections, employee training and operations and maintenance procedures. If you have any questions regarding the AHERA Management Plan for the school district, contact the Gaston County Schools Facilities Services Department, (704) 866-6146. 

    J. Use of Pesticides: N.C.G.S. § 115C-47(47)
    With the passage of N.C.G.S. § 115C-47(47), the school district must provide notification regarding pesticide use on school property.  For more information, please consult Board Policy 9235 and/or contact: 

    Mark Schultz, Logistics Manager
    Gaston County Schools
    943 Osceola Street
    P.O. Box 1397
    Gastonia, NC 28053

    K. Student Restraint/Seclusion/Isolation
    The school district has adopted Board Policy 4304 as required by N.C.G.S. § 115C-391.1.  

    A. It is the policy of the State of North Carolina to:
    (1) Promote safety and prevent harm to all students, staff, and visitors in the public schools.
    (2) Treat all public school students with dignity and respect in the delivery of discipline, use of physical restraints or seclusion, and use of reasonable force as permitted by law.
    (3) Provide school staff with clear guidelines about what constitutes use of reasonable force permissible in North Carolina public schools.
    (4) Improve student achievement, attendance, promotion, and graduation rates by employing positive behavioral interventions to address student behavior in a positive and safe manner.
    (5) Promote retention of valuable teachers and other school personnel by providing appropriate training in prescribed procedures, which address student behavior in a positive and safe manner.

    B. The following definitions apply in this section:
    (1) “Assistive technology device” means any item, piece of equipment, or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capacities of a child with a disability.
    (2) “Aversive procedure” means a systematic physical or sensory intervention program for modifying the behavior of a student with a disability which causes or reasonably may be expected to cause one or more of the following:

    1. Significant physical harm, such as tissue damage, physical illness, or death.
    2. Serious, foreseeable long-term psychological impairment.
    3. Obvious repulsion on the part of observers who cannot reconcile extreme procedures with acceptable, standard practice, for example: electric shock applied to the body; extremely loud auditory stimuli; forcible introduction of foul substances to the mouth, eyes, ears, nose, or skin; placement in a tub of cold water or shower; slapping, pinching, hitting, or pulling hair; blindfolding or other forms of visual blocking; unreasonable withholding of meals; eating one’s own vomit; or denial of reasonable access to toileting facilities.

    (3) “Behavioral intervention” means the implementation of strategies to address behavior that is dangerous, disruptive, or otherwise impedes the learning of a student or others.
    (4) “IEP” means a student’s Individualized Education Plan.
    (5) “Isolation” means a behavior management technique in which a student is placed alone in an enclosed space from which the student is prevented from leaving.
    (6) “Law enforcement officer” means a sworn law enforcement officer with the power to arrest.
    (7) “Mechanical restraint” means the use of any device or material attached or adjacent to a student’s body that restricts freedom of movement or normal access to any portion of the student’s body and that the student cannot easily remove.
    (8) “Physical restraint” means the use of physical force to restrict the free movement of all or a portion of a student’s body.
    (9) “School personnel” means:

    1. Employees of a local board of education.
    2. Any person working on school grounds or at a school function under a contract or written agreement with the public school system to provide educational or related services to students.
    3. Any person working on school grounds or at a school function for another agency providing educational or related services to students.

    (10) “Seclusion” means the confinement of a student alone in an enclosed space from which the student is:

    1. Physically prevented from leaving by locking hardware or other means.
    2. Not capable of leaving due to physical or intellectual incapacity.

    (11) “Time-out” means a behavior management technique in which a student is separated from other students for a limited period of time in a monitored setting.

    1. Physical Restraint

    (1) Physical restraint of students by school personnel shall be considered a reasonable use of force when used in the following circumstances:

    1. As reasonably needed to obtain possession of a weapon or other dangerous objects on a person or within the control of a person.
    2. As reasonably needed to maintain order or prevent or break up a fight.
    3. As reasonably needed for self-defense.
    4. As reasonably needed to ensure the safety of any student, school employee, volunteer, or other person present, to teach a skill, to calm or comfort a student, or to prevent self-injurious behavior.
    5. As reasonably needed to escort a student safely from one area to another.
    6. If used as provided for in a student’s IEP or Section 504 plan or behavior intervention plan.
    7. As reasonably needed to prevent imminent destruction to school or another person’s property.

    (2) Except as set forth in subdivision (1) of this subsection, physical restraint of students shall not be considered a reasonable use of force, and its use is prohibited.
    (3) Physical restraint shall not be considered a reasonable use of force when used solely as a disciplinary consequence.(4) Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prevent the use of force by law enforcement officers in the lawful exercise of their law enforcement duties.

    1. Mechanical Restraint

    (1) Mechanical restraint of students by school personnel is permissible only in the following circumstances:

    1. When properly used as an assistive technology device included in the student’s IEP or Section 504 plan or behavior intervention plan or as otherwise prescribed for the student by a medical or related service provider.
    2. When using seat belts or other safety restraints to secure students during transportation.
    3. As reasonably needed to obtain possession of a weapon or other dangerous objects on a person or within the control of a person.
    4. As reasonably needed for self-defense.
    5. As reasonably needed to ensure the safety of any student, school employee, volunteer, or other person present.

    (2) Except as set forth in subdivision (1) of this subsection, mechanical restraint, including the tying, taping, or strapping down of a student, shall not be considered a reasonable use of force, and its use is prohibited.

    (3) Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prevent the use of mechanical restraint devices such as handcuffs by law enforcement officers in the lawful exercise of their law enforcement duties.

    1. Seclusion

    (1)Seclusion of students by school personnel may be used in the following circumstances:

    1. As reasonably needed to respond to a person in control of a weapon or other dangerous object.
    2. As reasonably needed to maintain order or prevent or break up a fight.
    3. As reasonably needed for self-defense.
    4. As reasonably needed when a student’s behavior poses a threat of imminent physical harm to self or others or imminent substantial destruction of school or another person’s property.
    5. When used as specified in the student’s IEP, Section 504 plan, or behavior intervention plan; and
    6. The student is monitored while in seclusion by an adult in close proximity who is able to see and hear the student at all times.
    7. The student is released from seclusion upon cessation of the behaviors that led to the seclusion or as otherwise specified in the student’s IEP or Section 504 plan.
    8. The space in which the student is confined has been approved for such use by the local education agency.
    9. The space is appropriately lighted.
    10. The space is appropriately ventilated and heated or cooled.
    11. The space is free of objects that unreasonably expose the student or others to harm.

    (2) Except as set forth in subdivision (1) of this subsection, the use of seclusion is not considered reasonable force, and its use is not permitted.

    (3) Seclusion shall not be considered a reasonable use of force when used solely as a disciplinary consequence.

    (4) Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prevent the use of seclusion by law enforcement officers in the lawful exercise of their law enforcement duties.

    1. Isolation: Isolation is permitted as a behavior management technique provided that:

    (1) The space used for isolation is appropriately lighted, ventilated, and heated or cooled.

    (2) The duration of the isolation is reasonable in light of the purpose of the isolation.

    (3) The student is reasonably monitored while in isolation.

    (4) The isolation space is free of objects that unreasonably expose the student or others to harm.

    1. Time-out: Nothing in this section is intended to prohibit or regulate the use of time-out as defined in this section.
    1. Aversive Procedures: The use of aversive procedures as defined in this section is prohibited in public schools.
    1. Nothing in this section modifies the rights of school personnel to use reasonable force as permitted under G.S. 115C-390.3 or modifies the rules and procedures governing discipline under G.S. 115C-390.1 through G.S. 115C-390.12
    1. Notice, Reporting, and Documentation

    (1) Notice of Procedures – Each board of education shall provide to school personnel and parents or guardians at the beginning of each school year copies of this section and all local board policies developed to implement this section.

    (2) Notice of specified incidents:

    1. School personnel shall promptly notify the principal or principal’s designee of:
    2. Any use of aversive procedures.
    3. Any prohibited use of mechanical restraint.
    4. Any use of physical restraint resulting in

    observable physical injury to a student.

    1. Any prohibited use of seclusion or seclusion that exceeds ten minutes or the amount of time specified on a student’s behavior intervention plan.
    2. When a principal or principal’s designee has personal knowledge or actual notice of any of the events described in this subdivision, the principal or principal’s designee shall promptly notify the student’s parent or guardian and will provide the name of a school employee the parent or guardian can contact regarding the incident.

    (3) As used in subdivision (2) of this subsection, “promptly notify” means by the end of the workday during which the incident occurred when reasonably possible, but no event later than the end of following workday.

    (4) The parent or guardian of the student shall be provided with a written incident report for any incident reported under this section within a reasonable period of time, but in no event later than 30 days after the incident. The written incident report shall include:

    1. The date, time of day, location, duration, and description of the incident and interventions.
    2. The events or events that led up to the incident.
    3. The nature and extent of any injury to the student.
    4. The name of a school employee the parent or guardian can contact regarding the incident.

    (5) No local board of education or employee of a local board of education shall discharge, threaten, or otherwise retaliate against another employee of the board regarding that employee’s compensation, terms, conditions, location, or privileges of employment because the employee makes a report alleging a prohibited use of physical restraint, mechanical restraint, aversive procedure, or seclusion, unless the employee knew or should have known that the report was false.

    1. Nothing in this section shall be construed to create a private cause of action against any local board of education, its agents or employees, or any institutions of higher education or their agents or employees or to create a criminal offense.

    L. Parental Information for Title I Schools
    The following schools in our district receive federal funding through Title I: H.H. Beam Elementary, W. Blaine Beam Intermediate, Bessemer City Central, Bessemer City Middle, Bessemer City Primary, Brookside Elementary, Carr Elementary, Catawba Heights Elementary, Chapel Grove Elementary, Cherryville Elementary, Costner Elementary, Gardner Park Elementary, Grier Middle, Ida Rankin Elementary, Kiser Elementary, Lingerfeldt Elementary, Lowell Elementary, McAdenville Elementary, North Belmont Elementary, Pinewood Elementary, Pleasant Ridge Elementary, Robinson Elementary, Sadler Elementary, Sherwood Elementary, Springfield Elementary, Southwest Middle, Tryon Elementary, Warlick Academy, Woodhill Elementary, and York Chester Middle. These funds are used to provide supplemental instruction to students who are in need of assistance in the area of reading and, on occasion, in the area of mathematics.  Our goal is to provide early intervention to struggling learners.  

    Federal guidelines require that school districts provide a process by which parents may request the qualifications of their child’s teacher. As a parent of a student in a Title I school, you have the right to know the following information: 

    1. Whether the teacher has met state qualifications for the grade levels and subject areas in which the teacher provides instruction; 
    2. Whether the teacher is teaching under emergency or other provisional status through which state qualifications have been waived; 
    3. The baccalaureate degree major of the teacher and any other graduate certification or degree held by the teacher, and the field of discipline of the certification or degree; 
      Whether the child is provided services by paraprofessionals and, if so, their qualifications. 

    To request this information, please contact: 

    Cynthia Reynolds, Title I Director
    Gaston County Schools
    P.O. Box 1397
    Gastonia, NC  28053
    (704) 810-8804

    M. Free or Reduced School Lunch
    A free or reduced lunch application form will be sent home with your child at the beginning of the school year. Complete the form and return it to your child’s teacher. You will be notified if your child(ren) qualifies for free or reduced meal prices. All information is strictly confidential.  For more information on participation in the Free or Reduced School Lunch program or questions about breakfast and summer lunch programs, contact your school’s principal or the Gaston County Schools Nutrition Department, (704) 836-9110. 

    N. Student Discipline Policies
    Pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 115C-390.2(i), schools must make available all policies, rules and regulations regarding student discipline.  For the Board’s policies and regulations regarding student discipline, consult the Board’s online policy manual at www.gaston.k12.nc.us.  All other student discipline information will be printed in student handbooks or made available on the school’s website at the beginning of the year.

    O. Student and Parent Complaint and Grievance Procedures 
    For information concerning student and parent complaint and grievance procedures, see board policy 4030.

    P. Equal Access to Facilities 
    The school system provides equal access to its facilities.  For more information about accessing school facilities, see board policy 8370. 

    Q. Information Regarding Advanced Courses 
    Pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 115C-174.26(d), schools must provide information to students and parents on available opportunities and the enrollment process for student to take advanced courses.  This information will be printed in student handbooks or made available on the school’s website at the beginning of the year.

    R. School Bullying/Cyber-Bullying Policies 
    Pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 115C-407.16(d), school principals shall provide the local board of education’s policy prohibiting bullying and harassing behavior, including cyber-bullying, to staff, students and parents.  A copy of these policies is available at www.gaston.k12.nc.us and will be printed in student and employee handbooks.  Hard copies of the policies are available from the school principal upon request.  

    S. Student Testing Information 
    For information concerning the dates of systemwide and state-mandated tests that students will be required to take during the school year, how the results from the test will be used and whether each test is required by the State Board of Education or the local board of education, contact Michael Foust at (704) 861-2498. For a list of student testing dates, visit www.gaston.k12.nc.us/testdates or contact your child’s school.

    T. School Annual Report Card Grade 
    Pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 115C-47(58), you will be notified of the most recent grade of the school your child is attending, as issued by the State Board of Education, if the school received a grade of “D” or “F”. Contact the school principal for information about the school district report card, which is available on the district website.

    U. Student Wellness Policy 
    For information concerning the district’s student wellness policy, see board policy 3530. 

    V. School Health Education Program
    You have the right to opt-out of your child’s participation in curricula related to: (a) prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, including Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS); (b) avoidance of out-of-wedlock pregnancy; or (c) reproductive health and safety education.  A copy of the materials that will be used in these curricula will be available in the school media center during the school year and at other times that the media center is available to the public.  Materials also may be made available for review in the central office.    

    W. Third Party App Opt Out Under 13
    Chromebooks and iPads allow for the use of educational tools created by third parties. Gaston County Schools  (GCS) thoroughly reviews these services before their use.  While some tools do not require a student user to provide any identifying information, others require the creation of an “account” using our Google for Education account where basic identifying information (a username, birth date, and account address) is provided.  Under a federal law, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), the school district may consent to the use of certain third-party or “cloud-based” educational services on a parent’s behalf. COPPA applies only to children less than 13 years of age.  In order to keep you informed, best protect your child, and best protect the liability of GCS, we are asking for your approval for GCS to consent on your behalf to your child’s use of account-based online services.  GCS’s educational technology team reviews and approves these services; they are not released to your child before being approved.  Students may be allowed to create ‘accounts’ approved by GCS that are necessary for using ‘cloud’ services, accessing resources, sharing information, turning in assignments, or communicating with teachers (for example). These accounts will be created in full compliance with COPPA laws.  All resource terms of agreements, including under age 13 restrictions, will be followed.

    If you have questions about the Annual Notice to Parents section of this publication, contact your school’s principal or call (704) 866-6100.

    Notice about Pest Management
    Gaston County Schools 

    This notice is being distributed to comply with the North Carolina School Children’s Health Act.  IPM (Integrated Pest Management) is explained further in the District’s Pest Management Policy (Policy Code 9235), which can be accessed on our website (www.gaston.k12.nc.us) - click the Board of Education section for policies. 

    The IPM Coordinator for our school district is:

        Mark Schultz, Logistics Manager
        941 Osceola Street, P.O. Box 1397
        Gastonia, North Carolina 28053
        (704) 866-6146

    Our school system may find it necessary to use pesticides to control pests. Chemicals are used in the least toxic form (active ingredient and/or formulation). North Carolina state law gives you the right to be notified annually of our use of pesticides. You may request notification ahead of time of pesticide applications. 

    Certain relatively low-risk pesticides are exempt from these notification requirements, including antimicrobial cleaners, disinfectants, self-contained baits and crack-and-crevice treatments, and any other pesticide products classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as belonging to the U.S. EPA’s Toxicity Class IV - “relatively nontoxic” group. 

    Currently, all interior pest treatment products that we use belong to the U.S. EPA’s Toxicity Class IV - “relatively nontoxic” class of pesticides. In the event that a non-exempt pesticide must be used for a pest control emergency at a school and you have requested notification, you will be notified of the application in advance or as soon as possible after the pesticide application. 

    If you would like notification of pesticide application, you will need to submit a written request for notification of non-exempt pesticide applications at your child’s school, and/or at the school site where you are employed by the school district. Submit your written request to the school’s principal, or for non-school facilities, to the building manager.

    The objectives of the Integrated Pest Management program are to: 

    • Protect the health and well-being of students and staff and maintain a productive learning environment. 
    • Maintain the integrity of school buildings and grounds and prevent damage or loss to school resources, structures, or property. 
    • Prevent pests from spreading in the school.
    • Prevent disruptions of the learning environment.
    • Enhance the quality of life for students, staff, and others.

    Our Integrated Pest Management program depends on the cooperation of everyone involved including administrators, teachers, other school staff, students and parents, and pest management professionals. Communication is an important factor to the success in preventing and solving pest problems in our schools.

    Notice about Asbestos
    Gaston County Schools
    Some of Gaston County Schools’ older buildings contain asbestos building materials. Because we value the health and safety of our students and employees, we want to advise you of this and tell you what to do should you encounter any materials you know or suspect to be asbestos. 

    Gaston County Schools employees must not handle any asbestos nor undertake any activity that would cause anyone to come in contact with asbestos. Any work involving asbestos will be handled by a vendor, who will be hired to deal with the asbestos. Any vendor hired will be appropriately licensed and qualified to perform asbestos work. Gaston County Schools employees must not be involved in any such work. 

    In case of an asbestos release, all occupants must immediately evacuate the area. The area must be secured and posted “no entry.” Under no circumstances must the asbestos be left exposed to students, employees, or visitors. A supervisor or principal must be notified immediately. Principals and/or supervisors must immediately contact the Gaston 

    County Schools Facilities Services Department at (704) 866-6146 or call the Emergency Line at (704) 866-6142.

    All schools and facility offices have an Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) Plan, which shows all locations with asbestos-containing building materials. The AHERA Management Plan is available in the main office of each school for review upon request by parents, teachers, and school employees, or their representatives. The school will make the Management Plan available within five working days of it being requested. The school may charge a reasonable cost to make copies. 

    Every six months, an inspection is completed by Facility Services for all sites containing asbestos. Every three years, a re-inspection is performed by an appropriately licensed and qualified third-party consultant for each school building occupied by Gaston County Schools. Information about the AHEARA Management Plan is on the Gaston County Schools website, www.gaston.k12.nc.us.

    Automated Telephone Notification System
    Gaston County Schools
    Keeping families informed is a priority for Gaston County Schools. We use the ParentLink/Blackboard notification system to provide emergency weather communication, attendance notification, and community outreach information. By providing your contact information to your child’s school, you are consenting to receiving recorded phone calls from your child’s school and the school system. If you do not wish to receive messages from the school or school system, you must notify the school in writing. By opting out of the automated telephone notification system, you will not receive any phone calls from the district or your child’s school. To ensure that you receive notification calls, please let the school know about any updates to your contact information.

    Connect with Us
    Gaston County Schools
    There are several ways to connect with Gaston County Schools.  You can receive news and information from the district website (www.gaston.k12.nc.us) as well as the school websites.  On social media, check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.  If you have Spectrum, make sure to watch Cable Channel 21 (our Education Station) for news and information and regular programs like “GCS TODAY” and “GCS Quick Clip.”  Additionally, the Board of Education regular meetings are televised each month on Channel 21 and YouTube.  And, the best “one-stop” source for information from Gaston County Schools is our mobile app.  You can download it for free from the Google Play and Apple online stores.

    Health Requirements
    Gaston County Schools
    Each child entering a North Carolina public school for the first time must submit proof of a health assessment to the school’s principal within 30 calendar days of the child’s first day of attendance. All children entering kindergarten this fall must have a health physical dated after August 17, 2020. The assessment must be submitted to the principal on kindergarten assessment forms provided by the N.C. Department of Human Resources and the N.C. Department of Public Instruction. The forms are available at all elementary schools. Students who do not meet the state requirements for immunizations and a health assessment will not be allowed to remain in school. 

    Immunization Requirements
    Students should be up-to-date on all the vaccines required for kindergarten entry. In addition, students need one dose of Tdap vaccine (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis-Whooping Cough) and one dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccine.

    • 5 DTP/DTaP (Diphtheria, Tetanus, Whooping Cough)

    If the fourth dose is on or after the fourth birthday, fifth dose is not required.

    • 4 Polio - IPV

    Three doses are acceptable if the last dose was given on or after the fourth birthday and separated from dose 2 by 6 months.

    • 1 HIB (Haemophilus Influenza B)

    Must be given at 15 months and before five years. Not required after age five.

    • 3 Hepatitis B
    • 2 Measles

    One dose after the first birthday and before 16 months, and second dose before enrolling in school. Usually given as MMR (measles, mumps, rubella).

    • 2 Mumps

    One dose after 12 months and before 16 months, and second dose before enrolling in school.

    • 1 Rubella

    One dose on or after 12 months and before 16 months. 

    • 2 Varicella (Chicken Pox)

    Required for all students entering kindergarten after July 1, 2015.

    Administering Medicine to Students
    To minimize disruptions to the school day, medication should be taken at home rather than at school whenever possible. However, the Board of Education recognizes that students may need to take medication during school hours. When it is necessary, school personnel may administer medication prescribed by a medical provider dependent upon a completed, signed authorization for medication form and written request from the student’s parent. The forms are effective for one school year and can be obtained from the school nurse or principal’s office. Medication taken at school should be administered in compliance with board policy 6130.

    Contact the school nurse if you have questions about student immunization records or health requirements. Also, please let the school nurse know if your child has any health issues, medical treatments, or medications that your child will need during the school year.

    School Nutrition
    Gaston County Schools
    Special Diet Needs
    Students with medical conditions such as allergies and diabetes may request modification to school meals by completing a diet order form.  Parents may obtain a diet order application from the cafeteria manager, school nurse, School Nutrition office, or online at www.gaston.k12.nc.us.  The form must be signed by a medical professional and returned to the school nurse who will submit it to the Gaston County Schools Nutrition Office.  For more information, contact your school nurse or call the School Nutrition office at (704) 836-9110.

    Free and Reduced Lunch
    All students enrolled in Gaston County Schools are given an opportunity to apply for free or reduced price breakfast and lunch.  To apply, a parent or guardian must complete and sign a Free and Reduced Price Meal application form.  The form must be submitted each year.  Only one application per household is necessary.  Eligibility for free and reduced price meals is based on household income and number of people in the household.  Applications are available from the cafeteria manager, school office, the School Nutrition office, and on the district website.

    Meal Prices
    For the 2021-2022 school year, breakfast and lunch meals will be free-of-charge for all students regardless of financial status. Breakfast for staff/adults will cost $1.50 and lunch for staff/adults will cost $3.75.