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Policy promotes parental involvement

Brookhaven School District Superintendent Lea Barrett has longsaid that part of the joy of her job is the fact that the communitysees schooling as a group project.

“This is a partnership, because our schools aren’t successfulwithout our parents’ involvement,” she said. “Brookhaven has alwayshad a community and school district relationship that we could bethe poster child for that partnership.”

As such, she said, there has always been an open-door policy forparents, business leaders, and community members to providesuggestions and input. But recent U.S. Department of EducationTitle I regulations are opening the doors even further, Barrettsaid.

Under the new Title I expectations, the district will be requiredto provide opportunities for parents of children served by Title Imoney to participate in the implementations of school projects.This puts the burden on the school district to make sure thatinterested parents understand national education goals, performancestandards, assessment processes, and how to monitor theirchildren’s educational progress.

The school district will also provide training for parents to learnhow they can successfully get involved with their child’s educationand with school district initiatives. Many of the guidelines laidout by the document are already in place in the school districtunder old regulations and simple district procedure.

The school district approved the new policy at Tuesday night’smeeting, and Barrett reiterated the fact that the school familiesare very interested in what their children are doing. She told theboard that Mamie Martin Elementary had 546 parents that attendedtheir parents’ night recently, while Lipsey had around 400 andAlexander Junior High set a new record for theirs with 345attendees.

“The federal government is just trying to insure with policies likethis that all the school districts actively encourage their parentsto be informed and proactive in getting involved,” Barrett said.”We’ve always had this open door policy, and we have fantasticcommunity, parent and business support. We couldn’t have had thescores we had if not.”

Barrett pointed to recent school rankings, as well as the successof the Mississippi Scholars program as examples of the positives ofthe school district. The strength of the school district is alsobolstered by the fact that parents have enough confidence in theirrole in their children’s education to approach teachers andadministrators about what’s going on in the classroom.

“There are some cities where a child can run from school, but notin Brookhaven as far as the parents, the school and the businesscommunity are concerned,” Barrett said. “There are districts wherea child walking the streets is not a concern, but I get calls allthe time where someone saw someone walking on the street duringschool hours and they’ll say, ‘I’m not sure if this person isschool age or not, but I wanted to make sure in case they weresupposed to be there.'”

Barrett said under the new regulations for parental involvement,the district will hold meetings and workshops every so often to letpeople know how they can be a part of things. She said it can onlyimprove the quality of the children’s education, because of howsmoothly things have been working until now.

“That’s what’s good about this community, every day of every yearwe get stronger in that experience for our children,” she said. “Weall believe in Brookhaven and the value of education and thatcommunicates to our students.”