Certain services or monuments on school property to memorialize deceased students or staff may be prohibited in local schools if Tooele County School District leaders adopt the first draft of a proposed policy.
The proposed policy on student and staff memorials recommends that this applies to funerals, honorary or posthumous diplomas, plaques and monuments on school property.
Following a tragic loss of several students last school year, Scott Rogers, Tooele County School District superintendent, presented the draft policy to the school board at their Aug. 12 meeting.
“It came to our attention last year after we had the tragic loss of life that affected students, families and our whole school community, that there was a lack of clear standards and policy in regards to student memorials,” he said.
Rogers prepared the initial draft of the policy as a starting point for a discussion after reviewing similar policies from other school districts.
The proposed policy allows memorial services, but not funerals, to be conducted at schools as long as they do not alter the regular school day or activity schedules.
Acknowledgment in the school yearbook and newspaper, dedication of a game or performance, establishment of a scholarship or a donation to a charity are appropriate ways for a school community to honor deceased students and staff, according to the proposed policy.
“This is a response to the need to provide clear, simple and consistent information to families and administrators,” Rogers said. “We need to follow the doctrine ‘What we do for one, we do for all.’”
Development of the policy was influenced by a review of professional studies on the effect of trauma and memorials on students, according to Doelene Pitt, assistant superintendent.
“National researchers have said not to have funerals on school property,” Pitt said. “It takes the safe place of school and ties it to a potential bad memory for some students.”
The proposed policy states that memorials should not appear to immortalize or glamorize the death of a student.
“This is just a first draft; we want input from parents and the community,” Rogers said.
The draft student and staff memorials policy can be found on the district’s website, www.tooeleschools.org, by clicking on “public information” and then scrolling down the page and selecting “policy for review.”
The school district’s website post of the draft student and staff memorials policy also includes similar policies from Washington County School District, Nebo School District, Box Elder School District, and Weber School District.
Comments and suggestions may be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The school board will review the policy at their Sept. 9 meeting.