Columbus Community Schools Newsletter

September 2017


Columbus Schools, along with all other Iowa school districts, must send to patrons of the school district a list of notifications to inform parents of their rights under the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act as well as other state and federal legislation.  This newsletter, along with others that may come, serve to help us meet that responsibility.  Please take time, although some of it may appear to be dry reading, to read the material.  If you have any questions or need further information, please contact the school district.  The telephone number of the superintendent’s office is 728-2911.  The telephone number of the Junior High/High School is 728-2231 and the telephone number of Roundy Elementary is 728-6218.


Asbestos Notification

In the past, asbestos was used extensively in building materials because of its insulating, sound absorbing, and fire retarding capabilities. Virtually any building constructed before the late 1970s contained some asbestos. Intact and undisturbed asbestos materials generally do not pose a health risk. Asbestos materials, however, can become hazardous when, due to damage or deterioration over time, they release fibers. If the fibers are inhaled, they can lead to health problems, such as cancer and asbestosis.


In 1986, Congress passed the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) that requires schools to be inspected to identify any asbestos containing building materials. Suspected asbestos-containing building materials are located, sampled and rated according to condition and potential hazard. Every three years, Columbus conducts a reinspection to determine whether the condition of the known or assumed asbestos containing building materials (ACBM) has changed and to make recommendations on managing or removing the ACBM. At the last reinspection, all materials listed in the Management Plan as asbestos containing (or assumed to be asbestos-containing) were inspected and found to be in good condition.


The law further requires an asbestos management plan to be in place by July 1989. Columbus developed a plan, as required, which has been continually updated. The plan has several ongoing requirements: publish a notification on management plan availability and the status of asbestos activities; educate and train its employees about asbestos and how to deal with it; notify short-term or temporary workers on the locations of the asbestos containing building materials; post warning labels in routine maintenance areas where asbestos was previously identified or assumed; follow set plans and procedures designed to minimize the disturbance of asbestos containing building materials; and survey the condition of these materials every six months to assure that they remain in good condition.


The following buildings contain no asbestos-containing building materials; therefore, no operations and maintenance programs or future inspections are required: Roundy Elementary, the Fitness Center, the HS Vocational Building, Sports Complex, Administration / MCC Building or the Greenhouse.  Asbestos containing building materials does exist in the following buildings: Columbus Junior High School and Columbus High School.


It is the intention of Columbus to comply with all federal and state regulations controlling asbestos and to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure students and employees a healthy and safe environment in which to learn and work. You are welcome to review a copy of the asbestos management plan in school district administrative office during regular business hours.  Please contact the superintendent of schools at 728-2911 with questions.


Student Wellness Policy – Policy 507.9
Columbus’s Student Wellness Policy addresses the topics of physical activity, nutrition education, food and beverages served to students, fundraising projects involving food, food as classroom rewards, and monitoring and evaluation of the policy.  This policy was passed by the Columbus School Board in June 2006 and has been update twice, most recently in August 2010.


Student Money in Food Service Account

Students occasionally have money in their food accounts at the end of the school year or when they leave the district.  If your student has food account money at the end of the year, you have options with what to do with it. 


You may choose to have it stay in your child’s food account and have it available to you next year, or you may request a refund of the money.  A check will be sent to you, upon request, larger than $1.00.  If the amount is less than $1.00, you may come to the District Administrative Office to pick up the amount, or you may choose to donate the money to the school district. 


If your student is leaving the district, a refund of money will occur to you.  Again, if the amount is $1.00 or more, a check will be mailed to you.  If the amount is less than $1.00, the amount can be collected at the District Administrative Office.


Notice of Non-Discrimination

Students, parents, employees and others doing business with or performing services for the Columbus Community School District are hereby notified that this school district does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, age (except students), religion, national origin, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability in admission or access to, or treatment in, its programs and activities. 


The school district does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, age (except students), religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability in admission or access to, or treatment in, its hiring and employment practices.  Any person having inquiries concerning the school district's compliance with the regulations implementing Title VI, Title VII, Title IX, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), § 504 or Iowa Code § 280.3 is directed to contact: Gary Benda, Superintendent, District Administrative Office, 1208 Colton Street, Columbus Junction, IA 52738.  His telephone number is 728-2911.  He has been designated by the school district to coordinate the school district's efforts to comply with the regulations implementing Title VI, Title VII, Title IX, the ADA, § 504 and Iowa Code § 280.3 (2007).


Equal Education Opportunities Policy Statement

The board will not discriminate in its educational activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.


The board requires all persons, agencies, vendors, contractors and other persons and organizations doing business with or performing services for the school district to subscribe to all applicable federal and state laws, executive orders, rules and regulations pertaining to contract compliance and equal opportunity.


The board is committed to the policy that no otherwise qualified person will be excluded from educational activities on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, marital status, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.  Further, the board affirms the right of all students and staff to be treated with respect and to be protected from intimidation, discrimination, physical harm, and harassment.


Anti-bullying/No Harassment Policy - School Board Policy 104

Harassment and bullying of students and employees are against federal, state and local policy, and are not tolerated by the school board members.  The school board is committed to providing all students with a safe and civil school environment in which all members of the school community are treated with dignity and respect.  To that end, the board has in place policies, procedures, and practices that are designed to reduce and eliminate bullying and harassment as well as processes and procedures to deal with incidents of bullying and harassment. Bullying and harassment of students by students, school employees, and volunteers who have direct contact with students will not be tolerated in the school or school district. 


The board prohibits harassment, bullying, hazing, or any other victimization, of students, based on any of the following actual or perceived traits or characteristics, including but not limited to, age, color, creed, national origin, race, religion, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical attributes, physical or mental ability or disability, ancestry, political party preference, political belief, socioeconomic status, or familial status.  Harassment against employees based upon race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion, age or disability is also prohibited.


The Equity Compliance Officer for the district is Superintendent Gary Benda (728-2911).


Open Enrollment

Parents or guardians considering the use of open enrollment procedures to enroll their child/children into another public school district in the state of Iowa should be aware of the following dates:


·         March 1, 2018: Last date for regular open enrollment request for the 2015-2016 school year.


·         September 20, 2018: Parents of children who will begin kindergarten in the school district are exempt from the March 1st deadline and shall file by the Thursday preceding the third Friday in September. This would be for continuation of program and good cause applications.


A pupil, who transfers school districts under open enrollment in all grades 10 through 12, shall not be eligible to participate in interscholastic contest and competitions during the first 90 school days of transfer at the varsity level.


Parents/guardians of open-enrolled students whose income is at or below the federal poverty guidelines are eligible for transportation assistance. This may be in the form of actual transportation or in the form of a cash stipend.


Notification of Rights under FERPA for Elementary and Secondary Schools

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords parents and students over 18 years of age ("eligible students") certain rights with respect to the student's education records. These rights are:


(1) The right to inspect and review the student's education records within 45 days of the day the School receives a request for access. Parents or eligible students should submit to the School Principal [or appropriate school official] a written request that identifies the record(s) they wish to inspect. The School official will make arrangements for access and notify the parent or eligible student of the time and place where the records may be inspected.


(2) The right to request the amendment of the student’s education records that the parent or eligible student believes are inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights under FERPA.

Parents or eligible students who wish to ask the School to amend a record should write the School Principal [or appropriate school official], clearly identify the part of the record they want changed, and specify why it should be changed. If the School decides not to amend the record as requested by the parent or eligible student, the School will notify the parent or eligible student of the decision and advise them of their right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment. Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to the parent or eligible student when notified of the right to a hearing.


(3) The right to privacy of personally identifiable information in the student's education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.  One exception, which permits disclosure without consent, is disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests. A school official is a person employed by the School as an administrator, supervisor, instructor, or support staff member (including health or medical staff and law enforcement unit personnel); a person serving on the School Board; a person or company with whom the School has outsourced services or functions it would otherwise use its own employees to perform (such as an attorney, auditor, medical consultant, or therapist); a parent or student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee; or a parent, student, or other volunteer assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks.  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. Upon request, the School discloses education records without consent to officials of another school district in which a student seeks or intends to enroll, or is already enrolled if the disclosure is for purposes of the student’s enrollment or transfer.


(4) The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the School to comply with the requirements of FERPA. The name and address of the Office that administers FERPA are: Family Policy Compliance Office U.S. Department of Education 400 Maryland Avenue, SW Washington, DC 20202-8520


Notice of Directory Information

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a federal law, requires that Columbus, with certain exceptions, obtain your written consent prior to the disclosure of personally identifiable information from your child's education records. However, Columbus may disclose appropriately designated "directory information" without written consent, unless you have advised the District to the contrary in accordance with District procedures. The primary purpose of directory information is to allow Columbus to include this type of information from your child's education records in certain school publications. Examples include:

•    A playbill, showing your student's role in a drama production;

•    The annual yearbook;

•    Honor roll or other recognition lists;

•    Graduation programs; and

•    Sports activity sheets, such as for wrestling, showing weight and height of team members.


Directory information, which is information that is generally not considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if released, can also be disclosed to outside organizations without a parent's prior written consent. Outside organizations include, but are not limited to, companies that manufacture class rings or publish yearbooks. In addition, two federal laws require school districts receiving assistance under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) to provide military recruiters, upon request, with three directory information categories—names, addresses and telephone listings—unless parents have advised Columbus that they do not want their student's information disclosed without their prior written consent.  If you do not want Columbus to disclose directory information from your child's education records without your prior written consent, you must notify the District in writing by October 31, 2018. Columbus has designated the following information as directory information:  Student’s name, address, telephone listing, electronic mail address, date and place of birth, dates of attendance, grade level, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, honors and awards received, and the most recent school attended. When a student turns 18 years old (even while remaining a student at Columbus), all rights afforded to the parent under FERPA transfer to the eligible student. 


Student Records Policy

The Columbus Community School District maintains records on each student in order to facilitate the instruction, guidance, and educational progress of the student. The records contain information about the student and his/her education and may include, but are not limited to, the following types of records: Identification data, aptitude tests, educational and vocational plans, discipline data, objective counselor or teacher ratings and observations, and external agency reports.


The records of each student are generally located in the school that he/she attends. Any exception will be noted in the student’s other records or by the person in charge of record maintenance for each building. The name and position of the persons responsible for maintenance of student records for each school building are listed below:


• Grades PK-6th Principal Paul Southwell and Guidance Counselor Kelly Tyler

•Grades 6th-12th Principal Tyler Hotz and Guidance Counselor Chris Wulf


The following persons, agencies, and organizations may have restricted access to student records without prior written consent of the parent or student over the age of 18 years:

·         School officials, teachers, and AEA personnel with a legitimate educational interest

·         Officials of other schools in which the student proposes to enroll

·         Representatives of state and local government when auditing and evaluating federal education programs

·         Officials connected with a student’s educational financial aid applications

·         Gov’t officials to whom information is to be reported under state law adopted prior to November 19, 1974

·         Organizations which process and evaluate standardized tests

·         Accrediting organizations for accrediting purpose

·         Parents of dependent children, regardless of child’s age

·         Appropriate parties in a health or safety emergency

·         Any other access to student records shall be only upon written consent or upon court order or legally issued subpoena.


Student records are reviewed and inappropriate material removed periodically. Those records that are not of permanent importance are destroyed within approximately five years of graduation or discontinued attendance.


The parents of handicapped students, or handicapped students over age 18, will be informed when personally identifiable information in the records is no longer needed to provide educational service and before the information is destroyed.


Student records contain student directory information.  Directory information is information released to the public (most often newspapers in regards to sports participation or colleges and universities the student is interested in attending).  At Columbus, directory information includes:  name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, major field of study, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, the most recent previous school attended by the student, and other similar information.  If you do not want the following information released, a written objection must be on file (on a yearly basis) with the aforementioned person listed as responsible for maintaining your student’s records.


Student Directory Information about Columbus Students is made available to the public for a variety of proper and necessary reasons.  According to the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation, this directory information must also be released to military recruiters.  Some parents do not wish for military recruiters to have access to this information.  If you are such a parent or student, according to the legislation, you must submit to us a signed request telling us not to release the information.  If you have questions, please contact the principal or counselor.


Parents of students under age 18 and students over age 18 may exercise the opportunity to review educational records of the student to obtain copies of the records; to write a response to material in the record; to challenge the content of the record on grounds of inappropriateness, inaccuracy or an invasion of privacy; and to have the records explained.


No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Highly Qualified Teacher Notification to Parents

At the beginning of each school year, Columbus Community Schools, because it receives federal Title I funds, must notify parents that they may request, and the district will provide parents on request, information regarding the professional qualifications of the student’s classroom teachers, including the following:

· whether the teacher has met state licensing criteria for the grade level(s) and subject area(s) taught

· whether the teacher is teaching under emergency or provisional status through which state licensing criteria have been waived

· the undergraduate degree major of the teacher, and any graduate certification or degree held by the teacher, including the field of discipline of the certification or degree


This notification to you is for the purpose of meeting that requirement.  Please contact the Superintendent’s office (728-2911) if you need such information.


Parent Notification of NCLB English Language Learners Program

Because Columbus uses federal funds to help provide a language instruction education program for children with limited English proficiency, we must, no later than 30 days after the beginning of the school year, give the parent(s) of each child identified for participation or participating in such a program the following information: why the child is placed in the program; the child’s level of English proficiency, how that level was determined and the status of the child’s academic achievement; methods of instruction in the program in which their child is placed and those of other available programs; how the program will meet the educational needs of their child; how the program will help their child learn English and meet age-appropriate academic achievement standards for grade promotion and graduation; the specific exit requirements for the program; in the case of a child with a disability, how the program meets the child’s IEP objectives; and information about parental rights.  For a child not identified as limited English proficient prior to the beginning of the school year, the district must notify parents within the first two weeks of the child being placed in such a program.


Title I Parent Involvement Policy

Columbus Community Schools receives Title I funds and uses the funds to support extra reading help at Roundy Elementary.  Title I funds are not used at the junior high or high school.  Roundy Elementary School must develop with and distribute to parents of children participating in Title I programs a written parental involvement policy.  If a school or district has a parental involvement policy that applies to all parents, it may amend the policy to meet the requirements under the NCLBA.  A handbook, created by the US Dept of Education, explains this parent involvement in


Eligibility for Student Meals

The federal government sets the eligibility requirements that Columbus follows in determining whether a student qualifies for reduced breakfast and lunch food costs.  The Federal Policy for Determining and Verifying Eligibility can be found at this website:


Annual School District Report Card

Local school districts that receive Title I funds are required to prepare and disseminate an annual district report card. The report card must be disseminated to all parents of students attending those schools in an “understandable and uniform format and, to the extent practicable, provided in a language that the parents can understand.” The report card must be made widely available through public means, such as posting on the Internet, distribution to the media, and distribution through public agencies. Columbus does a mailing to all postal box holders to reach them with this information.  Data required for district reports cards:


1. For the district, and by individual school, information on student achievement at each proficiency level on the state academic assessments. Columbus, along with all other Iowa school districts uses the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) and the Iowa Test of Education Development (ITED) as the state academic assessment tests.  The information must be aggregated and disaggregated by the following:  student gender, student migrant status, economically disadvantaged students, students from major ethnic and racial groups, students with disabilities, students with limited English proficiency. Disaggregation is not required in a case in which the number of students in a category is insufficient to yield statistically reliable information or the results would reveal personally identifiable information about an individual student.  An insufficient number in Iowa is defined as 30 students or less in a particular category.


2. Student achievement at the basic, proficient, and advanced levels on state assessments.  Iowa uses the categories of ‘not proficient’, ‘proficient’, and ‘highly-proficient’.  Not proficient in an area is defined as being below the 41st percentile on that particular test.  Proficient is defined as scoring between the 41stand 90th percentile.  High proficient is defined as scoring between the 91st and 99th percentile.


3. The number and percentage of schools identified for school improvement and how long the schools have been so identified.


4. Information that demonstrates how district students in the aggregate achieved on the state assessment(s) as compared to students in the state as a whole.


5. For each school, information that shows how the school’s students achieved on the statewide academic assessments and other indicators of adequate yearly progress compared to other students in the district and the state as a whole.


6. For each school, whether the school has been identified for school improvement.


7. The percentage of students who were not tested, disaggregated by subgroup.


8. For secondary schools, graduation rates, disaggregated by subgroup.


9. The professional qualifications of district teachers in the aggregate and by school. Professional qualifications include the percentage of such teachers teaching with emergency or provisional credentials, and the percentage of classes not taught by highly qualified teachers, in the aggregate and disaggregated by high poverty (top quartile of poverty) compared to low poverty schools (bottom quartile of poverty).


Participation in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Test

Columbus must make reasonable efforts to inform parents and the public about their right to access to all assessment data (except personally identifiable information), questions and current assessment instruments.  Districts, schools and students now must participate in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Parents of children selected to participate in any NAEP assessment must be informed before the assessment is administered that their child may be excused from participation for any reason, is not required to finish any assessment and is not required to answer any test question.


Parental Notification of Third Party Surveys and Parental Rights

According to No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation, Columbus must develop and adopt policies regarding the rights of parents to inspect third party surveys before they are distributed to students and take measures to protect student privacy when surveys ask for certain sensitive information; parental right to inspect any instructional materials; administration of physical examinations or screening of students; collection, disclosure or use of personal information from students for the purpose of marketing or selling that information; and the parental right to inspect any instrument used to collect personal information before it is distributed to students. Districts must give parents annual notice of adoption, substantive changes in, or continued use of such policies.


Serving Homeless Students

There are some students who attend Columbus schools that are homeless.  Being declared homeless is done by following federal criteria. Columbus strives to meet the needs of our homeless students according to these federal mandates.  School board policy 501.16 describes our responsibilities and procedures in providing services.


Notification of Rights Under the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA)

PPRA affords parents certain rights regarding our conduct of surveys, collection and use of information for marketing purposes, and certain physical exams. These include the right to:


• 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 (ED)–

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 respondents 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 parents; or

8. Income, other than as required by law to determine program eligibility.



• 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 or its agent, 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 obtained from students for marketing or to sell or otherwise distribute the information to others.


• Inspect, upon request and before administration or use –

1. Protected information surveys of students;

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.


Columbus complies with these policies, regarding these rights, as well as arrangements to protect student privacy in the administration of protected information surveys and the collection, disclosure, or use of personal information for marketing, sales, or other distribution purposes. Columbuswill directly notify parents of these policies at least annually at the start of each school year and after any substantive changes. Columbuswill also directly notify, such as through U.S. Mail or email, parents of students who are scheduled to participate in the specific activities or surveys noted below and will provide an opportunity for the parent to opt his or her child out of participation of the specific activity or survey. Columbuswill make this notification to parents at the beginning of the school year if the District has identified the specific or approximate dates of the activities or surveys at that time. For surveys and activities scheduled after the school year starts, 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. Following is a list of the specific activities and surveys covered under this requirement:

•Collection, disclosure, or use of personal information for marketing, sales or other distribution.

•Administration of any protected information survey not funded in whole or in part by ED.

•Any non-emergency, invasive physical examination or screening as described above.

Parents who believe their rights have been violated may file a complaint with:  Family Policy Compliance Office U.S. Department of Education 400 Maryland Avenue, SW Washington, D.C. 20202-5901


School Messenger Telephone Service

Columbus uses a telephone messaging service that allows the district to send telephone and email messages concerning weather updates, school event reminders, and other information needed in a timely manner.  Our telephone numbers are generated by a computer system we use to maintain student information.  The messaging program also allows non-students to be added.  If you would like to receive this school information, contact the district administrative office (728-2911) and give us your name and numbers you would like called.


Columbus School Board Meetings

Generally, the school board meets on the second Monday of each month.  There are, from time to time, exceptions to that rule.  You can find the specific meeting dates at the following website:  Columbus School Baord Schedule



Concussions in JH and HS Extracurricular Interscholastic Activities

As many know, student athletes having concussions is becoming a greater concern.  If a student receives a concussion or is suspected of possibly having one during a game or practice, a new state law mandates that the student be immediately removed from participation.  The student may not return to participation until the student is evaluated by a licensed health care provider trained in the evaluation and management of concussions and other brain injuries and has a written clearance from that person.  A licensed health care provider is defined as a doctor, doctor’s assistant, chiropractor, advanced registered nurse practitioner, nurse, physical therapist, or athletic trainer licensed by a board.  Parents and student athletes are required to sign a form stating that they have received and read the concussion fact sheet before participating in Columbus activities.


Non-Discrimination Policy Statement

It is the policy of the Columbus Community School District not to discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, disability, sexual orientation, sexual identity, age, political party affiliation, or marital status in its programs, activities, or employment practices as required by the Iowa Code.  There is a grievance procedure for processing complaints of discrimination.  If you have any questions or a grievance related to this policy please contact the district’s Equity Coordinator, Ms. Kelly Tyler, Elementary Guidance Counselor, 1212 Colton Street, Columbus Junction, IA 52738, 319-728-6218 ext. 1132, [email protected]